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There’s Power in that Pause

By Mary Haban, APR

I just had to swerve. Though I didn’t crash, I came close. The community event my colleague and I were methodically planning for almost a month was nearing completion. And days away from launching. Then—we got the call.

The voice on the other end didn’t have good news. In fact, it was a detour we weren’t prepared to take. Our challenge? The venue our event was scheduled to take place in, the one we had just paid to promote in a televised segment airing in 15 minutes, was already booked by another group. The issue was, no one knew until that day.

A decade ago, my reaction to this news would have looked and sounded a whole lot different.  But these days, I realize that call was a gift. The reason? I gave myself permission to pause. As I hung up the phone, I sat quietly and thought to myself. “What will we do now?” In that moment, the answer became clear—adapt.

As luck would have it, that pause proved powerful. It gave everyone, and especially me, time to regroup and make way for an even better plan to take shape. And that amazing partner helping us book the initial venue? She offered us a more enticing option, complete with swaying palm trees and sparkling waters. What’s more, she, the television station and our team of partners agreed to promote our new and improved event location on their social channels. So, what looked like a pothole on our roadway to success, turned out better than any of us could have ever imagined. 

As public relations professionals, we are continually in motion, running on high-octane, never knowing when that next pothole or fender bender will appear along our roadmap to success. And that’s precisely why we must sometimes, yield, tap those brakes and adapt.

The theme of adaptation was front and center at this year’s Sunshine District Conference held right here in Tampa Bay. As one of three lucky scholarship winners to represent our chapter, I sat captivated while scores of talented speakers shared their own valuable stories of swerving, near misses and ultimately, transformation. It reinforced something we, as a PR community, already know. We are never alone. And trusting the process, well, that takes trust.

As the winds of change blow through our profession, our foundation is often shaken to the core. But if we pause, and ponder the possibilities before us, our gifts as communicators and collaborators have that chance to shine their brightest. Today, I’m grateful for that call. Though it wasn’t in my PR plan, it did make me smile, knowing my colleague and I had the chops to take it on, with grace, grit, and an extra dose of patience that 99% of the time clears the way for that powerful pause to come into play.

Mary Haban, APR (left) takes time to pause for a fun photo with Jenna Stock, PRSA Tampa Bay president, at the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference. 

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