PR lessons learned from working at McDonalds

I came across this post from 2006, What I learned about PR from McDonalds, written by Kami Huyse from the blog, Communications Overtone.  Huyse recounts her teenage years of working at the fast food restaurant and what those years taught her about PR.  The post came about because a senior director at McDonalds asked bloggers about tips on doing a corporate blog.  (Huyse’s tips are listed in this post, McDonalds’ blogger learns fast.)

Huyse listed three lessons from her first job.  They are: know your audience, the power of having and working a plan, and how to shift gears in a crisis.  She gives examples from her McDonalds’ days. 

I found these basic ideas useful because they are what a lot of us have been thinking about as we come up with plans for our clients.  These ideas are also timely.  The media is filled with reports of carefully designed presidential campaigns and bad press about Wall Street.  Huyse’s three lessons can be applied no matter where one is in his or her career.

So what have you learned about successful PR from an unlikely source?  How do you think these lessons should be incorporated into PR classrooms?  Do you think they are used well in PR professional settings?

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11 Responses to PR lessons learned from working at McDonalds

  1. ccharvey says:

    I think that post really shows what PR professionals can learn from their everyday life. All people learn from their past, whether it is from their previous jobs, life experiences, or relationships it is important. I think in some ways Huyse’s lessons are already incorporated in PR lessons and classrooms. However the real experience comes from jobs. Whether it’s part-time work or an internship, clients are clients and we can always learn from them.

  2. knish21087 says:

    PR is one of the industries that you definitely wind up taking your work home with you. Every aspect of your life can be applied to your work. This girl was able to draw quality lessons from her first job at McDonalds and apply them to life as a PR professional. Since I have not yet entered the professional world yet, I have always been aware of everything around me that could help me better understand the industry. I like to constantly read blogs within the industry and watch how major companies portray themselves in the media. I think it’s imperative to be well informed in the PR industry.

  3. ambrewe1 says:

    Wow, I did not see that coming! How interesig though with all those scenarios that PR is applied and learned. I guess when I think about it I too have learned about PR before I even knew what it was. I too dealt with similar situations at my first job: Harkins! I think if we were to use these simple scenarios to teach PR, students would better understand how it is applied. This way, if we teach PR effectively in te classrooms, professional PR would be better than it is.

  4. wackyzachy47 says:

    I worked at McDonald’s in high school and honestly it is funny how Kami Huyse broke it down so simply. Those lessons are very basic things that you get from working there for any amount of time. I think that these principles are very applicable to the PR profession and I am all for looking to unconventional sources for new ways to go about applying practices in the profession of PR.

  5. kristarogers says:

    I really appreciate Kami Huyse’s insight to basic principles she learned from her job at McDonald’s to the field of public relations. I think that everyone is faced with an opportunity to learn from everyday experiences on a daily basis. Public relations involves being a clear communicator, having a plan, and understanding who you are talking to. All of these aspects are important in a variety of fields, and even within interpersonal relationships. We have an opportunity to better ourselves as public relations professionals everyday by paying attention to the little lessons life teaches us.

  6. agilliam says:

    In my ideal perfect world setting, everyone would have knowledge about and be skilled in PR practices. People do not realize how helpful practicing god communication can be. I just can’t get over the reality that if a customer has a bad experience with anyone in a company, be it a receptionist, operator, maintenance man, paper pusher, or CEO, that experience will affect how they see the company. If everyone in business thought about this, I think that there would be many more helpful and productive interactions taking place. It doesn’t matter if you are at McDonald’s or the Biltmore all employees should use PR skills.

  7. davemerenda says:

    Finally, someone bridging the gap between PR and other professions. As I commented on another post, I am frustrated at how many PR bloggers don’t make connections with ideas an practices from other professions. Kami does this quite well. Thanks for noticing how this applies to what we’re doing.

  8. cclark2 says:

    I think this is a prime example of why it is so important to gain all types of experience in life, even from the time you are a child. I agree with Knish that every aspect of your life can be applied to PR.

    I find it funny how our first jobs can have such an impact on our careers. They instill in us some of the most basic fundamentals to be successful.

  9. amyfoley1975 says:

    I think that the restaurant industry is a perfect place to practice your pr skills. I work as a bartender and am constantly having to smooth things over with customers so they leave happy if something went wrong…or have had to sell myself and the company I work for to customers so they will come back again. In fact there was one instance where I was talking to a customer and they told me I should go into a communications field because I was very good at explaining myself and the company. I have to talk to people everyday at my job, which I think is beneficial to me as a pr professional. Any means by which I brush up on my communication skills is good.

  10. ksorensen19 says:

    I definitely agree that every PR professional learns a lot about how they want to conduct their professional career based on previous business experience. I think that just like with anything else, you can’t just learn everything you need to know in the classroom. You have to take your real world experiences and apply them to other parts of your life. I definitely agree with the article that in most jobs everyone has to figure out the best way to handle crisis, whether through making mistakes or observing others make mistakes. I know that as a receptionist I have had to handle a lot of clients over the phone and in-person and it really helped me to understand that it is important to recognize where your clients are coming from and how to handle a crisis that occurs. In addition, I learned how to recognize a potential problem and prevent it from turning into a crisis.

  11. bkranz says:

    Who would have thought a job at McDonald’s could give one insight into a career in PR? I certainly did not. This post caught my attention right off the bat, with the words McDonald’s and PR put together. As a whole, it makes a good point that the most random careers can give you insight into PR. The three examples of lessons learned are certainly applicable to a profession in PR, I guess I just never took the time to consider that one could learn these at that type of job. Looking further into it, it makes perfect sense. People working at restaurants or retail have to work face-to-face with their clients daily, a task that often puts them in positions to make quick decisions in order to ensure a positive business experience. Working many years in retail definitely allowed me to see how the slightest change in the way a company works could affect clients.

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