PR lessons from a broken iPhone

By: Briagenn Adams Post can be originally be found here

It finally happened.

Just a few weeks ago I was walking around without a care in the word. I was texting, taking pictures, checking my Twitter feed, acting like my iPhone 5 was an indestructible commodity. Then, with one small slip of the fingers and one little shatter of glass, my world changed.

Not to be dramatic, but shattering my nearly new iPhone 5 is definitely on the “Top 10 Bad Things That Happened to Me in 2013” list. My iPhone was my baby; the one special thing that I went to sleep with every night, and woke up to every morning. I even thought about giving it a name.

Although my shattered iPhone still works OK, I am forced to live with the ever-present reminder that things are just not how they used to be. It’s easy to be mad at Apple for not making its products stronger and sturdier, but looking back on the relationship with my iPhone, it’s easy to see that I was in the wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve learned from shattering my iPhone screen, and here’s how I’m going to carry these lessons with me into the professional, PR world:

1. Never sacrifice quality. 

When I shattered my iPhone, the only protection between it and the cold, hard, unforgiving ground was a flimsy case that I had bought on Amazon for $1.25 the week before. Although the case was attractive and very cheap, I knew it did not offer even a small fraction of the protection my old OtterBox Defender Series case did. However, after having had my iPhone for the past four months without incident, and especially after watching this YouTube video, I decided to sacrifice quality and go for what I thought was a cooler, more attractive upgrade.

Look where that got me. Lesson learned? Never sacrifice quality—oh, and don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Who cares if my Otter Box case wasn’t the best-looking thing on the market? It did what a phone case is supposed to do—protect the phone—whereas my Amazon “deal” failed me.

So, how does this translate to PR? Basically, in every way. When you’re working with clients, never offer them cheap, slapdash work just because it’s easy to produce and superficially attractive. Instead, go for top quality. Spend the extra time and money to perfect a project; show your clients that you care about their success. In the end, when their investments have proven to be worthwhile, clients will thank you for your high-quality service and they will form loyal, lasting relationships with your company.

2. When disaster strikes, pick up the broken pieces and make do with what remains. 

I broke my iPhone. I broke it, I broke it, I broke it. It sucks. However, no matter how many times I wish I had held a firmer grip, no matter how many times I let out a sigh of exasperation because I can barely read the time, the fact remains that I broke it, so now I have to make do with my mistake.

The first thing I did after I broke my phone was order a screen protector. Now, instead of resembling Bill Hader in one of those T-Mobile commercials, I can at least slide my fingers across my screen without drawing blood. Although this is a small accomplishment, it’s much better than no accomplishment at all.

Likewise, when you’re working in PR, it’s probable that disaster will strike at one point in your career. If—and when—that happens, you can’t take back the mistake, but you can learn to recover and move on. You might not be able to forget what happened, but at least you’ll no longer feel the lingering pain.

3. Always, always have insurance. (Or a Plan B). 

Thank goodness I have insurance on my iPhone. Of all the life decisions I have ever made, buying insurance for my iPhone 5 was one of the smartest. If not for insurance, I would have to pay up to $900 for a new phone. As it is, because of insurance, I will have to pay only $100. Still a lot of money for a broke college kid like me, but way less than it could have been.


For the purpose of this post, I will equate buying insurance to having a Plan B. In case something fails—a client event, a pending press release, or a media pitch—it’s essential that you have a backup plan. That way, when disaster strikes, you won’t find yourself out on the streets, begging for charity and forgiveness.

Briagenn Adams is a junior studying strategic communication with a minor in French. Follow her on Twitter @Briagenn. A version of this story originally appeared on Ohio University’s ImPRessions blog.


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