This year we celebrate 20 years since I started TC Public Relations. And as I reflect on the years in business, I think back to how my success actually comes from a bottle of whiskey.
Let me explain.
When I was growing up in Philadelphia, around the age of 12, my father and I shared the joy of watching professional wrestling. We would travel together on Saturday nights to attend these matches in person.
Usually, my father would buy what people referred to as “nosebleed seats” at the venue, meaning that we were practically sitting where air traffic controllers would work from. However, one of his friends was an usher at this venue and at some point after the matches began, we would meet my father’s friend at a door that connected the upper level of the arena to the lower level, where the good seats were.
The usher knew there were blocks of seats where tickets had not been sold. The usher would take us to those seats, and, in one case, we were sitting literally next to where the wrestlers would come out to the ring. So I had the pleasure of greeting Gorilla Monsoon, Victor Rivera, Bruno Sammartino, and Andre the Giant.
It was an amazing experience that I always cherish because it was something that my father and I enjoyed doing together, and having these ring-side seats was very fun.
So about that whiskey.
My father would buy pints of whiskey that he kept in the house as potential thank you gifts. And in the case of this usher who would give us these primo seats for nosebleed prices, my father would drop off one of these pints of whiskey at his house to show his appreciation.
What I learned is the power of “thank you” and tangible appreciation, and the importance of remembering when someone does something for you that they don’t have to.
How do I apply this to the success of TC Public Relations over the past 20 years?
Most of my work falls into the category of earned media, meaning when a place such as The New York Times or Chicago Tribune decides to use my client for an interview, it is based on how well I treat them. In most cases, I make the effort to show appreciation. While I do not send every reporter a bottle of whiskey, at the very least I might call or write a note, via email or a card, expressing appreciation for the coverage.
Of course, I can’t do this work without my clients. About every three to four months, I’ve made a point to send every current client a special appreciation gift, whether it’s popcorn, candy, or fruit, just to let them know in a tangible way that we appreciate their business. This is an important gesture for me, because many times my clients are spread throughout the country and we have never met in person.
I hope you didn’t miss the fact that I don’t keep a stash of whiskey in my office. Rather, I have a list of trusted vendors who provide these gifts to my clients.
And I believe that part of what has gotten me to this 20-year anniversary goes back to what my father taught me about showing appreciation and thanking people. These connections with clients and media contacts are very important relationships, which I’ve nurtured over these past two decades.