PRetty flowers

      50 Comments on PRetty flowers

Readers: My students have told me one of their favorite “PR Nation” posts was written for Valentine’s Day in 2013. I’m continuing a tradition of updating and re-posting it each year. Enjoy!

“When a person brings pretty flowers to a date, that’s good public relations.”

When we attempt to define public relations, we can agree that good PR strategies seek to accomplish one of three responses: to create attitudes, to reinforce attitudes, or to change attitudes. Well, isn’t that what dating is all about, too?

Consider matchmaking, set-ups and online dating, for example. People create profiles–similar to a PR practitioners’ backgrounders–to describe their personal and professional status. When one senses a potential match he or she contacts the other, usually with a clever, enticing note–in effect, a pitch letter. If the pitch works, a first meeting may take place at a mutually selected venue. These early get-togethers involve planning significant events for which schedules are coordinated, clothing is selected, and grooming is completed so the presentations (dates) go well.

As the relationship takes root, networking begins, first with friends and then with family. Each action is designed to create positive attitudes among the couple’s various publics. The following weeks and months will contain acts of caring and kindness, sharing of new experiences, and efforts to compromise when necessary. As in social media, there will be likes, shares, interaction, and even occasional analytics. This, like PR, is done to reinforce positive attitudes.

Eventually, a crisis may occur. Someone says or does something wrong or hurtful, and then an all-out effort is made to change negative attitudes. Various reputation management tools must be used if there’s any chance of success. This may include providing flowers and apologies. After the crisis is over, favorable behaviors must be sustained because, as we know, good PR is more than just clever words or nice appearances. Maintaining consent from your publics must be supported by consistent, positive performance.

So on this Valentine’s Day, remember that when your date brings you a gift or flowers, that’s good PR. And, more importantly, if your date brings flowers for your mother, that’s superb PR. Your thoughts?

50 thoughts on “PRetty flowers

  1. Jennifer Im

    I remember being blown away when I read this metaphor in the past! It’s still impressive to this day. Should anyone ever question the importance of Public Relations, I think this would be an easy to understand and creative way to introduce them to the idea. I would even recommend introducing the field using this metaphor in the introductory classes, as I remember being positively confused about what PR entailed the first few months of being in the major.

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  2. Elana Delafraz

    This metaphor is amazing, I could not have thought it better myself. I am really glad you shared this. I feel as if every one should take a public relations class to learn how to represent themselves, communicate with the public, and communicate with journalists. The dating world is all about that…the man or woman wants to represent him or herself with a positive light.

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  3. Sydney Seligman

    I really enjoyed your thoughts on a date as a PR practice. I’ve never really thought of asking someone out as a “pitch” or the honeymoon phase of dating to be “changing attitudes”. I think it is easy to forget how often we employ PR practices in our daily lives, whether it be on social media or in person-to-person relationships.

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  4. Leana Gianan

    It’s amazing how PR can be applicable in any part of life. If people were to apply these tactics in their personal lives, they could avoid multiple issues. As stated in the post, reinforcing positive attitudes could help a relationship. My only hesitation is that if someone thought that positive reinforced actions could work on anyone. For example, while flowers to someone might be a nice gesture, others might not agree. I think it’s important to remember that every situation is different and it would be wrong to assume that everyone likes flowers.

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  5. Kristen Simon

    I think this was an excellent way to personify the PR industry, especially for those who may not understand what public relations is. I found this a cute and quirky way to think about it and will be sharing this article with a few people who may not quite get what I’m majoring in.

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  6. Tyler Weatherly

    I remember reading this post last year and it is definitely one of my favorites. It’s fun to think of maintaining our personal relationships in life as mini PR campaigns for each one.
    But in all honesty, the idea of creating, reinforcing, or changing the attitudes and perceptions of others sums up relationships as a whole. On the opposite end of things, what is the practice of PR other than maintaining those good relationships?

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  7. Jenna Morace

    I would have never made the connection of PR and dating but in this post it all makes sense. When dating someone we want to put our best foot forward, showing our strengths and good qualities before anything bad about us gets out. With PR you need to have all bases covered with representing yourself in a respectful manner and dating works the same too. I loved the comparison about bringing flowers as well. I thought that was a great add on in the post.

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  8. Gabby Sully

    During the first read through, I thought what does PR have to do with relationships? The second read, it all started to click. Once I got past how flowers are associated with relationships and forgiveness, I started to think how PR really comes into play. The first thing that popped into my head was being honest. Honesty is one of the most important parts of public relations. You need to be honest with your client and with the public; honesty is the core of relationships.

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  9. Daniela gagliano

    I always tell people “that’s good PR” as a joke whenever they send a follow up thank you text/email or do something respectful for their image. While I say it as a joke, it really is true though. A dozen roses or a simple thank you email is great PR for yourself. Just because a transaction is complete, doesn’t mean positive reinforcement should be lost. Every person we meet is a possible connection and it’s important to maintain respect between all relationships and do something a little extra to give a lasting impression. We do our own PR everyday simply by wearing a smile on our face!

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  10. Anwar Ahmad

    I have never considered dating to be considered PR. This is actually an amazing way to look at it. In some way, this formula could lead to a successful relationship (just like in PR). The networking part really stuck out to me. I did not consider meeting a significant others friends and family as networking, but this essentially what is. Creating positive attitudes and maintaining them is absolutely essential to a successful relationship and successful PR. This comparison is incredible and brings a realness to public relations and relationships. I will never look at dating the same way.

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  11. liad zayit

    This is such creative a creative way of combining PR and valentines day, never saw the two combine this way. This was a great way to explain what public relations really is. Often times when I get asked “what is your major” and I said “PR” I get looks of confusion but after reading this post relating PR to a real life experience (like valentines day) its easier to understand. This post was by far my favorite one!!

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  12. Grace Finlayson

    I have never looked at dating like this, but now I will never get this scenario out of my head. Dating is a lot like PR because of the way you present yourself throughout the dating process. Also another thing to add is creating relationships while you are dating because you will each meet the different people in each others lives. This is in a sense networking. There are a lot of aspects of dating that are exactly like public relations. I am glad you keep bringing back this blog post ever valentines day.

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  13. Emily Levine

    This is a really clever way to think about dating! I never would have thought of dating as PR, but now that I do, I’m making the connection to bad PR, for example a significant other that lies or cheats, or tries to misrepresent their personality or past to make them seem more impressive than they are. Eventually the other person finds out the truth and likely ends the relationship. This is the same in PR- if PR professionals lie, the public will inevitably find out the truth and loose trust in the brand. They won’t exactly break up with the PR professional, but they will likely stop using their product or service.

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    1. Alexandra Halbert

      I loved this post- I can definitely see why it would be a favorite among other college students. I never realized just how similar PR and dating are. Come to think of it, I’ve never really compared PR to anything. I especially liked the part on “crisis” and found this post to be informative yet humorous. I wonder what else PR can be compared to so closely…

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  14. Marielle McCartin

    I loved this Valentine’s Day post! I never thought about PR in this way but it actually goes together very well. When you are dating someone, it is very important to be consistent making sure the client ( your significant other) is happy and content with you , just like in PR. Communicating well will allow a relationship to succeed and foster a growing beneficial relationship between the two people. PR skills can be used not only on the job, but in social everyday settings as well.

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  15. Bianca Kroening

    This is such a great post! It’s interesting what other parts of light can be looked at through this lens. As a graduating senior, I’m working constantly on MBA applications, my CV, and cover letters, all of which feel like writing a pitch. PR is everywhere!

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  16. Briana Cunningham

    This is so creative and thoughtful! I’m surprised I never made the connection between PR and dating before. Little did I know that while I was going to school for a degree to start my career, I was also getting great dating advice. But I think it can certainly be expanded past romantic relationships. The analogy can be applied to almost all relationships that we foster throughout our lifetime. It’s good to remember that the communication skills that PR practitioners learn can be used for more than just connecting with clients in our work life. Those skills can also be used to create and maintain healthy relationships in our personal lives. Maybe more people should learn effective PR practices.

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  17. Emily Barnes

    I agree that when one brings flowers on a first date this gesture is a form of PR, because creates an attitude. I also think that we go through everyday life in terms of PR because we’re constantly promoting ourselves–our way of thinking, our values, our likes, our dislikes–all in an attempt to show people who we are from the outside, in.

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  18. Haley Moffatt

    After reading this post, it’s easy to understand how PR can relate back to many things in life. It’s always important to practice habits of good PR in all situations, for it’s yourself that you’re always branding and maintaining a good reputation for! Your comparison can obviously be translated to other situations, but the specific situation of dating makes it such a profound experience and you never experience the same thing twice. That being said, the lessons PR can teach you transfer over to teach you real life lessons all the time, whether it’s knowing to bring flowers, bring your mom flowers, or any other possible situation that can occur, it’s important to always think proactively, adapt to the situation and positively impact all those around you.

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  19. Asher Lennon

    This is very interesting and appropriate considering that it was valentines day even though you said that you post this each year. On another note I had never considered how similar dating and online dating profiles are to PR work. I will consider that more in the future when it comes to both PR and online profiles. All in all, this has changed the way I look at both of these topics.

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  20. Rhwang

    I agree, but I also think our daily lives are considered as PR. When meeting someone, creating a good impression whether it is intended or not, is extremely important. After creating a good impression, it is critical to maintain the image you have created for yourself to those people. I believe that in any job in the communications department is influential because in a world of business and communication, who you know, and their connections is what is most important.

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  21. Wendy Timana

    This is a very witty and funny post! I’ve never thought about how dating truly requires some PR techniques. From now on when I mess up and say something wrong(crisis), I’ll apply some of the techniques for reputation management. Maybe instead of going to my friends for relationship advice, I’ll just look at my PR notes. I should probably also lend my PR notes to my friends who suck at making good impressions.

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  22. Stephanie Rubbino

    I like the comparison between dating and PR because it put things in perspective. The analogy made between the two can be an easier way to explain exactly what public relations is to people who have trouble deciphering what people in that department do.

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  23. Emily Bravo

    This is a great way to look at PR. The metaphor for the dating scene is an interesting perspective. It helps me understand how PR works( I am a journalism major.) I guess following in that format, Tinder is a spinster world? Tinder people put up elaborate but not always truthful dating profiles. The person only clicks on a profile that seems better in presentation but once they meet (network) they find out that the person isn’t what they seem. They weren’t truthful on their profile and the connection/ relationship is broken.

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  24. Sarah Hanlon

    This is such a great explanation of PR! As we discussed in class, defining public relations can be tricky, especially for people who aren’t fully aware of what it actually is. I can see why this is a favorite post – relating PR to a real life experience that everyone can understand and relate to is arguably the best way to express what it is, what it means, and how we see it in every day life. Next time I encounter someone who doesn’t understand public relations, I’ll definitely show them this post!

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  25. Brandi Hutchinson

    I loved this post so much! It never crossed my mind the similarities between PR and dating. When you start off by just talking to someone, you really do use the tactics of creating attitudes, reinforcing attitues or maybe even changing one. You want to create the attitude of them liking you back and then reinforce the romance every once in a while. Or even if someone is not sure if they are ready to date, you can change that attitude. I also really enjoyed the part with the flowers. Flowers are seen in a positive manner. And like giving flowers, PR representatives have to present not just themselves but also the company that they are representing in a positive light.

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  26. Hannah Thueson

    I feel as if a lot of human interactions start with PR. Excepting your family, everyone works hard to create and maintain good relationships with their peers. And all of us have probably at some point had to change negative attitudes within that relationship. PR skills roll over into everyday life way more often than we realize.

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  27. Brittany Liscoe

    Using the concept of gaining a person’s admiration while dating to better understand the strategy behind PR is extremely effective. It’s simple to understand that impressing a person you like is very similar to a PR professional earning the attention and trust of their audience. However, I wonder how the two concepts can still be connected when it comes to the growth of the relationship. For instance, there comes a time when couples no longer feel the need to impress one another because they have reached a level of complete trust and comfort. This may be connected to the concept of a PR professional succeeding in their goal of gaining interest and trust but then being met with the task of keeping that loyalty in place.

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  28. Erik Hansen

    This is an interesting analogy to make, as it seems like such a distant and somewhat jaded way to look at dating yet the points align quite well. While reading this, I found myself thinking that I’d personally find it weird if someone bought flowers to a date, although twenty to thirty years ago it may not seem so odd. This, in my head, highlighted the idea of PR needs constantly evolving over time as society and worldviews shift and change. , and how those in the field of PR must be able to adapt to these changes to maximize their success.

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  29. Madeline Myslow

    One of the things I love most about PR is the social aspect. I can strike up a conversation with anyone (as long as it’s not a male that I’m interested in) and relate to a person in at least one important way in order to make a connection. This skill has helped me pass my drivers test, stand front row at concerts, and meet some pretty cool people. I think having social skills that are extremely in tune is a vital aspect of being successful in the field of public relations. To be able to create a bond and a mutual trust between a PR specialist and his or her client seems to me to be just as important as the bond in a relationship. Both need each other to prosper.

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  30. Dianne Fallucca

    I really appreciated this analogy. Often when telling people I am a PR major, I tend to get looks of confusion. I find myself struggling to explain what the job of a PR person is without using the words “public” and “relation[ship]”. Next time, I will be referencing this post!

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  31. Marli Delaney

    (the other submission had a typo so I wanted to comment again with the typo fixed)

    I haven’t really thought of dating as a gateway of utilizing public relations, but now that it’s been brought up I can agree in the way that a person most definitely creates first impressions on dates, reinforces them with positive actions, and can easily change them with a negative decision. The reason I wouldn’t have initially viewed dating in this perspective is probably because I’m currently in a positive dating situation that I’ve been a part of for long enough where it has become very casual. When I say this I refer to how it doesn’t feel like public relations when I’m with him as much as it feels like private relations: we spend most of our time with alone (though we still do go out in public, and we both treat each others’ friends with upmost respect which builds positive rapport!) and we use social media outlets around each other about 2% of the time (if even that). This person is someone who I cook homemade meals with and eat them after with, draw funny pictures with, play video games with, (insert more dorky things that we do just together), and to top all of that we are able to share secrets and know that they won’t be getting exploited- thus the situation we have just doesn’t feel like something I would call “public”. Now, here’s a rhetoric question that describes what I’ve learned: if actions made privately are connected to public relations, doesn’t every action ever made define PR?

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  32. Christina Shackett

    Public Relations can be compared to the first stages of dating: the days when you are still trying to make an impression on someone. I believe that PR can considered the front that you put forth towards people you don’t know incredibly well, or the way that you act when you want someone to think a certain way of you. So comparing the actions of PR to dating is accurate, especially when someone is still trying to impress a person they are beginning to date. After a while, however, I think the PR skills in dating drop once the relationship lasts longer as opposed to PR in a professional environment.

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  33. Alyssa Scott

    I agree that good PR is critical with dating in order to create, reinforce, and change attitudes. Whether that is for one’s dating site or first date, you must strategically plan things out if you want a date or relationship to be a success. Maintaing and mending relationships require good PR skills. If people paid more attention to the PR aspects of dating, I think their relationships would run smoother.

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  34. Emily Walsh

    I completely agree with this clever post! I never compared PR to dating, but it just goes to show how public relations is in every aspect of our lives. This reminds me of when a PR professor told my class once that the idea of buying a diamond engagement ring was a PR move for the diamond industry / jewelry stores. While the sentiment behind the ring is very important, it was the power of PR that brought it to life and made it’s message so popular today. It’s very cool to know that public relations has an important impact for us professionally and in all aspects of our lives.

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  35. Kassara McElroy

    PR is meant to create, reinforce, and change attitudes. I think the comparison of PR to dating is strong, in the sense that one must present themselves in a way which others (family, friends, clients, etc.) approve of and are attracted to. Both PR and dating are all about performance and the presentation of oneself.

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  36. Max Newman

    The first time I’ve ever thought of matchmaking and the dating process in this way. It is very true that we unknowingly use PR tactics when trying to make a good impression on a guy or girl. The most interesting part was definitely the social media aspect and how couples may use it to not only create the positive attitudes but also to reinforce them.

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  37. Whitney Shepherd

    This is definitely by far one of my favorite post. Although I have never put dating and PR together in this way it makes total sense. I think relating such professional practices like pitch letters and backgrounders to something so common and everyday allows me to not necessarily understand the importance of our work in greater length, but the ability to use our profession in numerous settings. This description of dating being PR is something that I think our generation needs to pay more attention to, especially with online dating profiles and reputation management. Many times conflicts arise in dating and flowers are given, but the challenge comes in maintaining positive performance, both professionally and personally.

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  38. Haylee Pollack

    I love this connection! I think you can also relate this to when you want to break up with someone. You want to get your message across clearly, yet you also want to be mindful of his or her beliefs and feelings so that you can avoid an even larger crisis. Updating social media then must come into play in order to leave the relationship behind and get yourself back on the market, and then the whole cycle begins again. You can relate PR to so many aspects of life which is very cool!

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  39. Samantha Storms

    This post brings the profession of PR into such a great lighting– I would’ve never had thought about such a comparison in this way! It really puts into perspective the amount of humanity that goes into every aspect of our lives, from our jobs to the very delicate workings of our most intimate relationships and connects. This proves that PR really is intertwined within nearly every element of human interaction.

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  40. Elizabeth Giangarra

    I absolutely loved this piece. I never thought about dating in a public relations aspect and I thought it was a brilliant way to think about the dating world. I think that this could also relate to applying for a job, your cover letter and resumer being your pitch letter, your interview being your networking and obtaining the job being a reputation management. It surprises me everyday, how much PR is truly involved in within in our everyday lives.

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  41. Madison Wright

    Relationships can seem like they are all lovey and magical, but at the end of the day a relationship can be a parallel to run like a business. When you start, you begin to get to know your partner’s friends and family in order to make relationships with them. What is incredibly relatable with this connection is the crisis management portion. Breaking up takes a lot out of both parties and when rumors start from one party, then both parties have poor PR. I believe it is both who are hurt because one party is the target while the other, if the rumors are clearly so, their reputation can be damaged to those around them. This is an intriguing way to think of things!

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  42. Sam Bussell

    I never really thought of online dating or dating in general as a great comparison to PR. But after reading this article it’s incredible to see how similar a PR campaign can be to dating in the sense that if you are creating a profile for online dating you are in fact actually creating a portfolio that describes yourself. Its crazy that even when we don’t know it, we are essentially marketing ourselves and we truly are our own number one Public Relations official. We can market ourselves in any way we think is best for ourselves and the people around you. Like the article said when you are going out and you want to have your girlfriend meet the family that is putting a positive spin on your persona and your life. The best type of PR person is you and only you, you can have people to help around and make you look good but it really comes down to you making sure you put your best foot forward and making sure you market yourself the best way you possibly can for the world to see.

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  43. Julie Dietel

    Dating and public relations is not something that I would have equated before reading this. Dating is done on a micro level while PR is performed on a larger scale but I think that it is an interesting take on our personal interactions and the effort that goes into them. I also think this comparison goes to show that the skills that PR practitioners posses can be applied and utilized in many other scenarios separate from just our direct work.

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  44. Elliot Rubin

    I had not thought about that, but that is an interesting analysis. I’m always cognizant of my “personal PR”, the image that I give off to the public, how people perceive me, and what image I want to present. Despite the fact that I had never explicitly linked PR with dating, given my own analogy, it makes sense. While dating is equivalent to reinforcing/changing/or promoting attitudes for a new client (your date), someone working on “personal PR” is focused on strengthening their organization (their self) before they can have clients of their own.

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  45. Nicole Lamanna

    This post is definitely my favorite and I can see why it would be other people’s too! It brings PR down to a level that everyone can understand. It’s hilariously true that flowers are a tool to earn create, maintain, and change attitudes, like stated in the post. This post has definitely made me see a new side to dating!

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  46. Michael Mastropierro

    Very interesting comparing dating to public relations. I never thought of it that way but it makes sense. Being in a relationship myself, I completely understand the comparisons you make between dating and good and bad PR. Especially the damage control part and trying fix it. Interesting idea and I will think about it going forward and pass it along to others.

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  47. Courtney Grieco

    This is so interesting. It is very appropriate to compare dating to PR as now I see the similarities they have. My favorite comparison is the flowers. Bringing flowers for your date have become such a cliche. It’s not the actual flowers that bring a smile to a girls face, its seeing them in your man’s hands knowing that he went out of his way for you. Bringing flowers for your mom, now that definitely going the extra mile. That action is simply to make the male look great to the females of the family and how the male is representing himself. Like we learned in class, the flowers will result in positive reinforcement and positive thoughts when the male comes to mind.

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  48. Ben martin

    I have never thought of dating in this way, but it is so true! Every action we take is to keep the other in good graces using the same tools PR does. Planning, presentations, and proposals (the written kind) are an intricate part of both dating and public relations. It’s a cool way to think of things!

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