How the four agreements apply to PR
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
I had a summer job at a yoga studio/boutique. As the social media manager, the studio cleaner and the yogic greeter, an item in the boutique always caught my eye, a book titled “The Four Agreements” by Don Ruiz Miguel. Mysticism and metaphysical practices interested my boss, so naturally this book occupied the shelves.
The book gathered dust on my bookshelf until the beginning of this year. When I opened to the first page, I was immersed in the author’s interpretation of the Toltec four agreements being the guidelines to living your best life. I began to see how the four agreements can improve every aspect in my life.
Two weeks later, sitting in my public relations writing class, I noticed the similarities between basic PR writing skills and the four agreements. Below are the four agreements and how they relate to PR:
First agreement: Be impeccable with your word
People don’t like to read anymore! A piece must be easy to read and to the point. No fluff. No babbling. Professionals see this in the demand for one-pagers. One page is all you get. Make it count.
Second agreement: Don’t make assumptions
Not offending anyone is a huge challenge. We want to speak respectfully and persuade the audience. You have to go beyond knowing your audience. You must understand them. How is this group different? What are the biases so I can avoid them? What are the cultural norms that I can relate to? The answers come from solid research like interviews, focus groups and surveys. Know your audience. Do not make assumptions about them.
Third agreement: Do not take things personally
Do not respond emotionally because your tone shows in your writing. If we take things personally, we cannot put on a smiling face for our company, business, non-profit, etc. The person leaving you a nasty comment is just having a bad day. Meet them where they are at, be kind and know that in the professional world you are not a person you are a connection to the public.
Fourth agreement: Always do your best
They say jump. You say how high and jump higher. Your best is only as good as what you believe your best is. Forgive your failures and move on. If you did your best you can’t have any regrets. You are in your position because someone saw your potential and knew that your best exceeds expectations.
You cannot write for PR without using the four agreements in your style guide. PR professionals should read this book if only through a professional lens. Can’t read the whole book? Write the four agreements on a sticky note and post it on your bulletin board to glance at before and after writing anything.