From Bayou Country to the Board Room: Why Cajuns Make the Best PR Pros
By: Reneé LeBouef, Communications Strategist
Whether we have a close relationship or you’ve only encountered me half-awake in a newsroom somewhere in the city around 6 AM, you are aware of the power of my voice. As Amy Boyle Collins often reminds me, I am extremely self-aware. I KNOW how easily I can command a room, boss a team around (in the most loving of ways) and craft the perfect sentence, all in a single breath. What I didn’t know – for over two decades – was how these inherent attributes, courtesy of the Cajun blood coursing through my veins, have armed me with the perfect skill set to excel in my chosen career.
If you were to ask my mother to wax poetic about my high school and/or college years, she would likely shudder in horror. For quite some time, I was completely lost when it came to my future. I had no confidence in what I could bring to the table, resulting in countless (and unnecessary) exaggerated meltdowns. While there was never a single defining moment, in the past five years, I’ve come to appreciate how my cultural background has shaped my professional experiences. Sure, I’m a great writer, public speaker and can dress the part – but there are some things you just can’t practice.
That said, I present to you: The Five Reasons why Cajuns from Bayou Lafourche Make the Best PR Pros.
- We aren’t afraid of you. A fellow Gambel Girl recently admitted she was terrified of me throughout my first month here. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been labeled as intimidating. Growing up, I watched my mother and grandfather often fight for what they believed in. That #PRLife requires a distinctive no-nonsense attitude that I believe all of my #GambelGirls have perfected; we waste no time, demand solutions and bend over backwards for our clients.
- The obvious one: You will NEVER shut me up, and though we’ve never met, I likely love you. It’s no secret the Cajun culture is known for unbridled hospitality and empathy. We Cajuns are incredibly passionate about everything we do and can likely tell you a 45-minute story about a chair (unprompted, for no reason and whether you’ve asked or not.) Connecting with our clients and the relationships we form is an incredibly important part of the Gambel culture. Every single time we host a new business meeting, I fall in love. I adore hearing my clients’ stories, forming meaningful partnerships and swapping tales about the city I am lucky enough to call home. Meetings in our conference room remind me of Sunday lunch traditions around my grandfather’s kitchen table for the first 18 years of my life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- We show all of our emotions. While this has gotten me into trouble more times than I could calculate, it’s also an integral part of my daily workload. Back to the empathy; I feel it in my bones when my clients are frustrated or stressed, and we also celebrate the wins together. There is no better feeling than that. Because I can easily express how I feel – even when that means anger – I can quickly assess a situation and recognize how we need to redirect efforts as a team. In the PR world, things can change from minute to minute. Being emotionally nimble is a skill set I flex every single day.
- While we are easily excited, we are generally unfazed. It’s hard to feel genuine shock when your fears as a small child consisted of 6-foot alligators, being trampled by stampeding cows (yes, they do that) and/or falling into crawfish ponds. We’ve been through devastating natural disasters and, oh yeah…some small oil spills. So, two words: CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS. When things get hectic, your company wants a fearless Cajun at the helm.
- We care. A lot. Mais cher, how’s your mom’n’dem? Because we genuinely want to know! Who doesn’t want to do trust their communications objectives with someone who remembers specific details about their kids, spouses and parents? Mais, I don’t know, me!
How did your familial background prepare you for your career? Email me and share your stories – you know I’d love to listen, cher t’bebe!