Guest Post by Narciso Tovar

PRs: Are you the Grasshopper or the Ant?

When it comes to creating tales that have a good moral lesson to ’em, Aesop is a fella that almost immediately comes to mind.

He is credited as authoring such fables as The Lion and The Mouse, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and (drum roll please) The Ant and the Grasshopper (also known as The Grasshopper and the Ant or The Grasshopper and the Ants).

The reason I dig The Grasshopper and The Ant is because it provides a strong message about the value of hard work and preparation.

Image: dierken’s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

If you don’t know it, here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

The story is about a grasshopper that pretty much spends his summer days singing away, while the ant (or ants in some editions) work and toil to store up food for the winter.

When winter comes around, the grasshopper finds himself in a bit of a pickle, dying of hunger. He eventually finds himself going to the ant, begging for food, only to get sent away and chastised for his laziness and lack of foresight.

A little harsh, yes; but one could say he had it coming… which still seems a bit mean.

This is why I’m so grateful for Disney providing a much “nicer” version of the tale as a Silly Symphony…

Ahh, yes””there’s big value in that little tale.

Which brings me to this question: why, oh why, do we allow ourselves to act like the grasshopper when it comes to dealing with the press?

While we’re not dealing with the threat of starving to death, the danger of ruining your reputation and company’s brand is very real.

Whether your interview is slated to last 5 minutes or 50, things can go awry in 5 seconds.

This is no exaggeration.

What you may think is a throw-away comment can sink your corporate ship in a jiffy. This is why it will serve you extremely well to be like the ant when it comes to preparing for an interview.

When you have a game plan, it

  • Ensures Consistency
  • Reminds You About What You Can/Cannot Say
  • Limits Surprises – doing your homework better prepares you for different types of “encounters” you may have with the media.

What to plan for:

Type of interview: having an on-camera interview calls for a different kind of game plan than having an interview on the phone.

Know their story angle: among other things, this will give you an idea on the types of questions they may be asking.

Know the Interviewer: if this person is known for getting to the “personality” of a company or digging into the origins of a corporate culture, it will most certainly make you prepare for your time in a different way.

Know the media: because doing an interview for the Financial Times is going to be a little different than having a face-to-face with “Good Morning America.”

While using this “ant principle” may not keep you from messing up an interview or inserting your foot in your mouth, it will give you a level of preparedness – even if your prep time only lasts 5 minutes.  Because, unlike the grasshopper, you will have, at the very least, given yourself a level of comfort …however big or small that may be.

What do you to adhere to this “ant principle” in your work?  How do you keep your “inner grasshopper” at bay?

Narciso TovarWith more than 14 years of public relations experience, guest contributor Narciso Tovar is president and founder of Big Noise Communications, that runs on Method + Moxie. He lives in Dallas with his wife, Rhonda, and has a strong track record in media communications, both “old” and “new,” with organizations such as Vonage and the Wall Street Journal Online. One of the most energetic voices in social media, you can easily connect with Narciso on Twitter.