PR lessons from mentoring a fifth-grader

Are you prompt? Considerate? When’s the last time you peeled a banana upside down?

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I’ve been matched with a 10-year-old girl whom I see every Saturday. Bright-eyed and curious, Marabel likes soccer, math, and cheese pizza. She also likes holding doors open for people.

Through our Saturday outings, I’ve realized that I learned a lot more from her than she has from me—and a lot of these lessons can be applied to PR or corporate communications. Try these:

Be on time

I pick Marabel up from her neighborhood, every Saturday at 10:45 a.m. One day, I was running about 10 minutes behind schedule.

“Sorry I was late,” I said, as we were walking to the train station.

“That’s OK,” she said. “I just thought you forgot about me.”

Oh, no!

As simple as this sounds, are you paying attention to the clock? If you’re in charge of scheduling your CEO’s town hall meeting, don’t make employees wait to be graced with his or her presence. You can arrive at a party “fashionably late,” but not at a meeting with your clients. Being prompt makes a big difference; it shows people that you care about them and their time.

Before you nominate me for “Worst Mentor of the Year,” just know that I’ve learned my lesson—now, I pick her up at least five minutes early.

Peel bananas upside down

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