If you’re anything like my coworkers and me, you likely have fallen in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Whether her designs or his sense of humor, we can’t seem to get enough of them.
We’ve even started switching our office TV from CNN to HGTV during lunch so we can catch snippets of their show. During these Gaines-filled lunch sessions, we’ve started to notice how, no matter what happens during the course of their project, the families seem to walk away satisfied, proud and happy about their investment, which, when it comes down to it, is exactly how we want our clients to feel after they meet with our team.
So, in order to justify turning off President Trump for one hour a day, here are a few PR takeaways we’ve learned from watching Fixer Upper.
The client’s vision needs to be understood.
In many of the episodes, Joanna can be seen picking out unique pieces at flea markets, antique malls or out of her own stash. But, she doesn’t put the exact same piece in every house. She knows a LOT about design; she is an expert in her field. And so are we. But, just like Joanna, we like to get to know our clients before we put together a plan and understand their goals so we can put together something they will love as much as we do.
Sometimes, the projects are scary.
It seems like every house Chip and Joanna work on has termites, water damage, a missing or cracked foundation, bees in the wall, a leaky roof or old-fashioned wiring. For us, pushing a client to invest in something substantial or try something new can be a scary thing, too. But, like Chip and Joanna, we know that everything will work out in the end and our clients are going to receive something more valuable than what they purchased.
First things first, communicate. And then keep communicating.
Chip and Joanna can be seen arguing over who has to make the dreaded phone call in almost every episode. You know the one – when things get scary, they tell their clients they need more money or their home isn’t going to be done on schedule or in the way they planned. In PR, things happen that are out of our control all the time. But, we know communicating with our clients throughout the process will help us resolve the issue faster and more efficiently and will help get everything back on track rather than waiting until the deadline and delivering something they can’t use or don’t want.
Options will keep everyone happy.
When Joanna asks her clients to review her designs, she always closes with 2-3 options, e.g. sets of French doors on the patio, a stone fireplace or a state-of-the-art shower. The clients then must choose the one thing they’d like most for the last bit of their budget. Likewise, we want our clients to be involved in the design process. We want them to see what they’re getting and help make key decisions. In some cases, the husband wants a fireplace, but the wife wants the shower. For us, this either means compromising or finding a way to do a fireplace and a shower. In the end, we want our clients to be happy with their final product and we’ll do just about anything to make that happen, which I think is ultimately Chip and Joanna’s goal, as well.
There’s no need to start from scratch if there are good bones.
Even on a recent episode in which Chip and Joanna start with a dilapidated shed, the two rarely – if ever – completely start over. You also don’t see them throw anything away. Likewise, there’s no point in recreating the wheel each time we start a new project. Joanna mixes a little old with a little new to create a masterpiece. In the same way, we pick the best of the old and pepper in a little new until we’ve created something that is uniquely ours.
Fun is important, too.
One of my favorite parts of Fixer Upper is the relationship between Chip and Joanna. While Joanna is often level-headed and calm, Chip is wild and rambunctious. And you need both or their projects wouldn’t succeed. We often see ourselves as the “adults in the room,” with ideas rooted in business objectives and strategy. But, we also love to explore ideas that are whacky and outrageous. To come up with the best plan, you need a healthy combination of both.
Coming from someone who lives in a white-walled apartment, watching Fixer Upper allows me to think and dream about my future home and all the projects I want to do. I imagine someone who is struggling to articulate their communications goals for their business would feel the same way if Vehr had a TV show. Now there’s an idea …