*Meep* *Meep* Using one animator’s rules to keep client relations fresh

*Meep* *Meep* Using one animator’s rules to keep client relations fresh

We all know the scenario. In a stark southwestern dessert an animated road runner speeds along, chased by a hungry coyote. Just when it looks as though the road runner may be captured, and the coyote’s hunger finally satiated, the coyote is yet again foiled by his own ineptitude. Wacky hijinks bring our chase to a close and the road runner is safe for another day.

These were not random acts drawn by a cartoonist but carefully crafted scenarios following a simple set of rules developed by animator Chuck Jones.

In his 1999 autobiography Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, Jones revealed the 11 guidelines he developed to frame the development of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. While the complete list can be found here, among the highlights:

  • No outside force can harm the Coyote -- only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.

  • The Coyote could stop anytime -- if he were not a fanatic.

  • No dialogue ever, except "meep, meep" and yowling in pain.

  • The Road Runner must stay on the road -- for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.

  • All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

  • Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.

Chuck Jones’s rules remind agency communicators success is about defining the system inside the zany world of public relations.

While it is important to facilitate creativity within the team to showcase the truth strengths to the client, it is equally important to set the parameters that will steer the program. Otherwise, the whole plan can go awry and you may end up empty handed and foiled once again.

Consider these creative guidelines to build strong client relationships and keep your PR program on the right path.

  • Develop a plan. The plan does not need to be as complicated as the Rube-Goldberg devices devised by the coyote. Determine the objective, set the strategy, define the tactics and deliver against a time line. The plan keeps the PR team and client synchronized in the quest for results.

  • Stay on the road. A plan is only as good as the execution. Consider it the roadmap that steers the program in the right direction. Did you ever see Wile E. Coyote’s plans? There’s a reason he failed.  It’s easy to be distracted by something new and shiny off in the distance but keep your eye on the original objectives. If you need to veer off course, build a plan that sets out the new strategy.

  • Suspend the laws of gravity. What goes up can only come down, right? Not in PR. Strive to keep the client results continually elevated by applying the creativity the team was hired to perform. You can never take a program too high and when it begins to sink, that’s when you know you’re in trouble. 

  • Know your tool source. The Acme catalog of PR, where do you obtain the tools that make your successful? Know how to use your resources for media relations, monitoring, reporting and social media. The right tools put the client plans into action and keep it along the right path. Failure to use your tools can have hilarious, but disastrous, consequences.

  • Keep hungry. A key plot point in any coyote cartoon episode is the hunger pains of the coyote and his misguided plans to find relief. The quest for creative PR solutions should likewise be a never-ending quest that drives the team to devise all manner of madcap plans. Some of the ideas may fail before they ever get to execution but for those that find success, the client will see the genius.

Remember, “the Coyote could stop anytime -- if he were not a fanatic.”

This one is just as applicable to PR professionals, we could all just stop, right? There’s no reason to make that one more phone call or post that last tweet. But alas, we don’t something inside of us drives us to make one more attempt to catch the Road Runner.

Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll catch it this time!

Eric Hazard is a director at Cognito where he helps financial companies tell interesting stories to the world. When he’s not at the office he enjoys hiking in New York’s Catskill mountains and amusing gifs of panda bears. Follow along on Twitter.

Photo: Comic word via Shutterstock

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