I would love to know everything there is to know about digital marketing and public relations but it’s impossible.
If nothing changed I might have a shot but that’s the problem. The world is constantly changing and this means that the knowledge we need to live in it is constantly changing as well. Even a small change can cause ripples that have a large impact.
This makes learning a necessity.
If I was still walking around with the same knowledge about public relations now that I had when I graduated from school, I would have never learned about paid media, earned media, shared media, owned media, integrated plans, measurement, or search engine optimization (SEO) and all the nuances around these topics. It would just be about pitching stories to the media.
However, the problem with learning is that it rarely happens by accident. We have to choose to embrace it.
Learning is a mindset and it’s an important one as we navigate the change that is happening in digital marketing and public relations. A willingness to learn has always been important but it becomes even more so now.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the tremendous change that we are experiencing isn’t slowing down, it’s accelerating. This means we all need to embrace a learning mindset.
Do You Live In A Bubble?
We create our own reality. There are certainly external factors that play into it but we use those factors to create a worldview. This worldview encompasses not only our personal beliefs but our professional beliefs as well.
We live in a bubble and it can be scary to leave that bubble. I know this from experience.
When I worked at Intel it often felt like there was Intel and then there was the rest of the world. I couldn’t imagine not working there. It wasn’t because I was super happy. There were plenty of ups and downs and in those down moments, I wanted to be anywhere but Intel.
I knew there was a world outside of it if I chose to move on but I found it scary to leave my Intel bubble. I was comfortable and leaving would make life uncomfortable.
Knowledge can be like that too. We amass this body of knowledge and we live inside of it creating a knowledge bubble, The fact that things change and we have to update that knowledge…it’s uncomfortable.
It means maybe we aren’t as smart as we thought we were and who doesn’t like being seen as smart?
The other factor is leaving that bubble means challenges to our worldview, though they may feel less like challenges and more like attacks.
The truth is that the bubble does serve a purpose. It can help keep us safe but it can also be dangerous.
Staying inside the bubble means that change will rarely happen and even when it does, it will happen slowly. It’s usually accidental as well because you won’t look for anything that will disrupt the sanctity of the bubble.
It’s easy to apply this to something such as politics but let’s apply it to a real-world business example.
One of the topics I’ve talked about in the past is SEO. Keywords used to be the most important piece to SEO. Notice I said used to be. Keywords still have their place. They are a great starting point but they are not an end destination any longer and treating them as such won’t get the best results.
However, I know of people practicing SEO who still see keywords as the most important piece of SEO. I’ve talked with prospects who are paying agencies to take care of SEO where the end result is copy-written for the Google bots and not their customers.
The result is prospects hit the website and leave. Why would they stay? Your customers aren’t robots but real people looking for solutions to problems.
Continuing down this path as Google focuses on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness could make a website as much of a liability as a help to your business.
If you’re staying in your bubble, you won’t have a learning mindset and you won’t realize what happening until you’ve already invested in the wrong actions.
Take A Stroll Outside Your Bubble
Whether you call it a bubble, a worldview, or something else, the reality is that we are always constructing. Sometimes it is something new but much of the time it’s about fortifying your already existing views.
This is humans acting human but a learning mindset requires that you step out of your bubble and take a walk into a bigger world.
There was a movie that came out a few years ago called Room which was about a young woman who had been kidnapped. Her abductor kept her in a shed in the backyard where he impregnated her. She has a young son who has never been outside of the shed, which he calls room. Subsequently, he knows nothing of what is outside of room. As far as he’s concerned, leaving room is like taking a rocket into space. When they finally escape he’s exposed to this huge world that is completely foreign to him.
It can feel that way when we leave our bubble. We see all these things that we haven’t seen before. It’s like going to outer space.
However, you will be rewarded (or scared out of your mind) by what you find.
My dad used to run a business and marketing for him was running a newspaper or radio ad. That was it.
He became aware of Google ads when he saw a postcard I received from Google giving me a $100 ad credit when I spent $100. He knew what Google was and has used it but it never occurred to him that I might be able to run an ad on Google.
He acted like I had been chosen by Google and given permission to run ads on their platform. I remember telling him, “Dad, it’s just a Google ad. Anybody can run a one. It’s not a big deal.”
On the other hand, finding something new can be a distressing experience. When I discovered the PESO model it was exciting right up to the point that I realized that I had no clue how it worked.
Then I realized this model had been introduced over four years prior. I had been walking around with a completely outdated view of the marketing communication world for all that time.
I had been in my bubble when I decided to take a stroll and I found something new. All of a sudden I realized that my bubble was no longer good enough. It had been a liability that had been holding me back the entire time.
Did Curiosity Kill The Cat?
I wrote a piece last year called Incuriosity Killed The Cat. It’s an interesting title but it didn’t do anything to help create some clarity with what the article was about. Whoops.
The idea behind the piece was that curiosity is essential to learning. If you want to learn, you have to be curious. When you’re not curious, you won’t step out of your bubble and this can be a problem in the long term.
It wasn’t just words in a blog post. I truly believe that the first step in a learning mindset is curiosity. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to grow.
Learning is about growing. It’s the discovering of new ideas and ways to do things.
I can’t even tell you how much I’ve changed how I do things now from when I started my business. It’s completely different and it’s all because I was curious. I wanted to find better ways to get work done.
I took a stroll and it had a big impact but it started with curiosity.
Embrace The Learning Mindset
Every morning I sit down and write three pages in longhand. It’s kind of painful because I’m not used to writing by hand but it occurred to me this morning that I’ve done a poor job of balancing learning and running my business. When it comes to learning, I’ve been taking in anything and everything I could find at the expense of work.
It might be good for learning but it’s not a good thing for the business. Reading blogs, taking classes, attending webinars, and reading business books don’t exactly pay the bills.
I decided I needed a personal learning plan which focuses on the things I need to know vs. the things that just be nice to know.
It means I’m going to be doing some strategic strolling outside of my bubble.
I would encourage you to do the same.
Embrace a learning mindset and accept that you might not know what you need to know to get to where you want to be.
Once you discover what you need, talk a walk outside of your bubble. You might just find that you need to construct a new one.