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Time Traveling Through the Year
Ever get that feeling that everyone around you is living in a different temporal dimension? For example, you are having a slight twinge of panic about Christmas shopping only to discover that others are basking in the last rays of summer before school starts. Or absent-mindedly inscribing the year 2024 on official documents in the third quarter of 2023. In our office, we annually wrestle with the challenge of mentally dwelling in March as we gear up for the largest campaign of the year while the rest of the world clings to the holiday spirit in December.
This mental time-traveling might confuse outsiders, but for us, it is the occupational hazard of being professional communicators who appreciate the art of planning ahead. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Planning is our compass, guiding us to craft content that is not just thoughtful but strategically creative, capable of cutting through the noise that competes for the attention of our audiences.
The Communications team for the BREC park system in Baton Rouge, Louisiana must contend with navigating the intricacies of overseeing 21 independent marketing plans that spotlight 175 parks, more than 1,000 events and an eclectic range of facilities — from golf courses and a water park to an observatory, swamp, theater, equestrian center and even a zoo without becoming our own competition. At the same time, we must educate the community about the system's importance, emphasizing the many benefits stemming directly from their annual investment of property tax dollars.
For years, we have battled the perception that we are overly strict when it comes to the deadlines we try to impose on our internal clients. Our answer to that has been to become hyper-focused on collecting data, both ours (impressions, clicks, spend, media mix) and theirs (attendance, revenue, date/weather, surveys). Recently, we showcased how a mere additional week of promotion led to a jam-packed event versus a dismally sparse turnout that had just one week less. While flexibility and quick thinking are crucial, our ultimate objective is to turn emergencies into anomalies, rather than the norm.
Our largest planning effort begins with Pitch Week, a five-month process that kicks off in late July or early August. It is a week filled with meetings with any company capable of helping us amplify the BREC message. Before the week begins, we publicize the opportunity, gather the essential paperwork for contracting and set up the meetings. After Pitch Week, we again meet with our accounts to share what we have learned and make certain we are on the same page before beginning the lengthy writing process, followed by several levels of review and approval and finally, two weeks of contracting in December so we can move forward without delay.
Meanwhile, we grapple with the challenge of coexisting in two temporal realms without causing undue confusion from colleagues firmly rooted in the present. Balancing the duality of time is an art, and for us, just another day at the office.
Meet the Author
Director of Communications
Cheryl Michelet joined BREC as Director of Communications in 2012. She has 18 years of experience in public relations/marketing management/crisis communications, preceded by nearly 20 years of broadcast television management at television news stations in Kansas and Louisiana. She became a television news producer while a sophomore in college at Pittsburg State University.