Years ago when I first joined the communications department at my company, one of the first things my boss told me about creating collateral materials, planning trade shows, and the job in general was, It’s not magic. I initially found that somewhat perplexing. I wondered if he was disparaging the job or what else he could have meant. Soon enough, it became clear.

Communications/advertising/PR–whatever you call it–is sort of like producing a play. The audience arrives on opening night and the curtain opens to what is hopefully a dazzling production of perfectly timed lines, convincing performances, and beautiful scenery. One day the stage is dark, and the next it is full of people and color and sounds. Poof! Like magic.

Except it doesn’t happen by magic. The journey to opening night involves hours of rehearsals, set construction, and costume creation. More than once along the way, there are likely detours for hoarse voices, tired feet, and teary frustration. In the end, it comes together with perfect timing for a fantastic performance, and it looks like magic. Now you see it; now you don’t. Or rather, now you don’t see it; now you do.

It works the same in my field. Someone needs a big trade show display or an eye-catching brochure or a new web feature. While the tools used to create these things become more sophisticated every day, they still need good, old-fashioned hard work and talented people to fuel them. A lot of prep work goes into each finished product, and most of the time that work isn’t visible to the world at large. Even though the really good people make it look easy, it’s still not magic.

Regardless of the field in which you work, I’ll bet the same holds true for you. It may be blood, sweat, tears, and talent, but it’s not magic.

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