Building up immunities: Pitching right brain PR ideas to left brain management

Each semester I watch my students struggle with problems getting clients on board for projects; getting clients to relinquish social media control (which they haven’t bothered to use anyway); getting clients to see students as more than technicians to carry out their every whim; getting clients to understand the power and importance of public relations. This semester at the Manship School of Mass Communication is no different.

Now let me be frank, it hurts me to see my students struggle. Sometimes they are angry. Sometimes they are in tears. Sometimes they are so stressed it makes them physically ill. The mommy in me wants to take all these 18-20 somethings in my arms and cuddle them and whisper, “it’s going to be o.k.” But I don’t because, well, that would just be creepy.

Instead, I have to take the same approach I do when my kids (ages 4 and 6) crawl all over the floor in a restaurant. I have to sigh and think to myself, “they are just building up their immune system.”

Many of my students have already begun to grasp this learning-experience for what it is. In meetings they say to me, “this is just preparing me for the real-world” or “I need to be ready as I will face this every day as a PR person.” Their immune systems are adapting.

Many of my students are still struggling with this experience. They are SLOWLY coming to terms with the idea that their project may not go as planned. The client might reject their proposal. They may have to change things to make the client happy. Their immune systems are fighting.

I hate that they have to go through this process, but I’d rather they do it now, in the safety of my class, than have these “viruses” sprung on them when they enter the real world.

John F. Budd Jr. had this to say about the process:

“Why do CEOs lack enthusiasm for many ideas proferred by PR practitioners? One reason is that we’re trying to sell right-brain ideas to left-brain oriented executives.

We all have two hemispheres to our brain. CEOs primarily use their left; it is the half that solves specfic problems. It is logical, linear.

We, on the other hand, use our right brain more; it is the half that gives us intution, the propensity to dream, creativity, the ability to sense and perceive.

Here are nine differences:

  • The left brain administers; the right brain innovates.
  • The left brain copies; the right brain originates.
  • The left brain asks how; the right brain asks what and why.
  • The left brain has its eye on the bottomline; the right brain has its eye on the horizon.
  • The left brain focuses on systems and structures; the right brain is freeform.
  • The left brain accepts the status quo; the right brain challenges it.
  • The left brain wants control; the right brain wants credibility.
  • The left brain things short-range; the right brain thinks farther out.
  • The left brain does things right; the right brain does the right thing.”

Left-brain vs Right-brain

These are the things I need them to grasp, the types of left-brain thinking I need them to be exposed to, before they graduate and get their first real job. I’m hopeful that the PR Campaigns projects and the Discover Baton Rouge with SCVNGR project will expose them to these to the point that they develop immunities and learn how to adapt to left-brain thinking. That they see the power in their right-brain PR selves and learn how to convey their ideas in ways that left-brain people accept. After all, innovation, critical-thinking, credibility, long-term planning and doing the right thing are necessary to be a successful, responsible organization. It’s time they learn how to pitch these things to left-brain managers.

P.S. Want to know if you are left-brained or right-brained? Take this online quiz.