Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fake It 'Til You Make It

When I offered to do publicity for our state-wide homeschooling conference, no one knew my marketing and PR experience entailed nothing more than participation in a few grass-roots, fake-it-'til-you-make-it projects.

Homeschoolers are a resourceful lot, though. Resourceful and, often, somewhat broke. We tend to live by a motto of "if you want it, make it happen" - which means things like forming an art group in your living room because the nearest studio is 45 minutes away; enticing speakers to come to your cornfield by offering free lodging and food; and going through 4, 5, sometimes 6 pilates teachers who only last 6 weeks each because they think travelling to our cornfields is, like, heading for a land of no return and good grief how can you stand it? There's no Starbucks down the block?

Or maybe my opinion is slightly skewed by my location.

Regardless, as I sat in on a session titled "Raising Entrepreneurial Children" at the
InHome Conference, listening to the presenter talk about creating arbitrary limitations in order to 'teach' our children to be creative and resourceful (more on that another time), I couldn't help but think how we unschoolers are raising entrepreneurial children (should they choose to be) by the very nature of our philosophy; and homeschoolers in general by the way homeschoolers tend to live their lives.

As we facilitate our children's interests and passions, we become many things: director, producer, financier, and chauffeur; brainstormer, map reader, liaison, and advisor; secretary, sales staff, lobbyist, and marketer. Just to name a few.

Most of us don't have credentialed experience in those areas, so we just learn by doing. We learn by our mistakes, we learn by asking others, and we learn by Google (thank youuuu Google). We may never become entirely proficient at some - or even any - of these skills, but for us, success is measured by doing something at least well enough to achieve our goal.

Sometimes that means learning something alongside our children so we are their partner in the process. Sometimes that means bartering - doing what we know best - for services or supplies - to get what "they" know best - when we can't afford something. And sometimes that means getting a job as a fitness instructor, proving you're able and reliable, and garnering enough faith that the club will co-finance your certification so you can teach pilates your own d*mn self, thank you very much.

If you want it, make it happen.

And so it is with the publicity for this conference. I have no degree in marketing or advertising. My experience is limited to what I've learned by working with others. I used Google several times for assistance in crafting a press release that will capture attention (i.e. define the goal of your marketing: to get more attendees? spread awareness? announce an event? What is the 'draw' - why should they give space for your news? Ah - good considerations), and I faked it until I made it.

Receiving emails from homeschooling groups large and small, thanking me for finding them and deeming them worthy of attention ("How did you find us? We're just a tiny little group! No one ever thinks to let us know of these things!"), was rewarding in itself. And when The Daily Herald, suburban Chicago's largest daily, contacted me to do a story, I was pretty darn excited. This is the work of a publicist, so I won't over-celebrate this. But for someone who's shooting from the hip and hoping for the best, it's a pretty fun feather in my cap.

Today's story in
The Daily Herald.

And now, I'm due in my first class - Tai Chi.

I wonder if the my fellow cornfield residents would like a tai chi class? Hmmm....


debra said...

Not too bad an article, Laura. Now, you're famous eh?
We say we can do something, then we figure out how. It's just how we do things.
Congrats on a successful conference.

Kez said...

Well done - it sounds like it went well!

denise said...

"I couldn't help but think how we unschoolers are raising entrepreneurial children (should they choose to be) by the very nature of our philosophy"

Exactly. My husband and I chatted about just this concept yesterday.

Congrats on the conference! We hope we can go next year if G's asthma is more under control as he gets older! :)

piscesgrrl said...

debra - not famous, just can't help chiming in. :)

Kez - the conference was really fun this year. It was fun to see everyone excited about the article on Saturday. It was the top story on the front page!

Denise - will be great fun to have you there. Fingers crossed!