When my obsession with “I Love Lucy” began, I had no idea there would be so many correlations between my late-night television indulgence and my blossoming career in public relations. As a child, I switched channels any time a black-and-white show came on, apparently thinking that because it was pre-color TV, it must be something my parents watched…so it must be boring. How young and foolish I was.
Lucille Ball was, in my eyes, a true pioneer for women in comedy. In a time when women were the homemakers and men were the breadwinners, Lucy Ricardo proved that she wasn’t a typical housewife. Time and time again, she coerced her best friend, Ethel Mertz, into getting caught up in outlandish schemes that always turned out well. Aside from being entertained, spending countless hours watching Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred play off each other in 30-minute segments has helped me learn a lot about life but also about how to make work, well, work:
Be confident. If you’re going to pose as the Maharincess of Franistan or be the pitch girl for Vitameatavegamin, you’d better own it. In other words, if you have a plan to develop, a press release to write or media to pitch, do it with conviction. There are always going to be document edits and constructive criticism on executing strategies, but the key to improvement is to learn from mistakes and believe in yourself.
Be honest. If you need advice on how to pitch the media, ask. If you have questions on AP style, ask. If you need help prioritizing and making a to-do list, ASK. Having questions and asking for help isn’t a sign of incompetence, it shows courage and taking pride in your work. It’s not always easy admitting when you are unsure how to do something or when you need help because you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s better to speak up than give the illusion that you can take on more than you can and end up with a mouth full of chocolate.
Work together. If you’re lucky, you might work in an agency where even the setup of the office is conducive to the free flow of ideas and creativity. Whether it’s a fresh perspective on the world of PR, attention to detail, Klout influence or musical motivation, each of my coworkers brings something different to the table to help us function as a well-oiled machine. In an episode where the Ricardos and the Mertzes become partners buying and running a diner, Ricky says to Fred, “You got the know-how, I got the name.” The trouble comes when Fred and Ethel are stuck behind the counter cooking, while Lucy and Ricky stand at the door greeting guests. Although everyone has different responsibilities within our company, it’s important that each person fulfill his/her role to ensure that we’re not divided into “Little Bit of Cuba” and “Big Hunk of America”…and no one gets stuck serving 100 hamburgers for $1.