Monday, June 28, 2010

Your Career and You..."Take a Deep Breath...THEN Talk!"

Just when I thought life couldn't get any funner (yes, I know that's not a word...but it fits here for some reason!), Gen. McChrystal comes along with his "Rolling Stone" interview.

My mantra, both as a public relations professional and, now, as a public relations professor, has always been "If you don't want your Mother to read about it in the paper the next day, don't SAY it!"

My Communication students at Curry College, especially those with a Public Relations concentration...most especially those who are taking my Crisis Communication Management course...hear this, if not daily, definitely weekly somewhere in our classroom discussions.

The cool (or sad) thing is almost always having a copy of that day's newspaper for "show 'n tell" to prove my point.

We all like to be perceived as "bright" or "witty" or "quick-with-a-quote." And that's all well and good. But a piece of advice...


How will what you say be received or perceived!

As you are preparing for a meeting...or an interview...what points do you want to get across, and how do you want others to react to what you say?

I had a great conversation last week with a colleague who's both engaging in the tenure torture process at her university and organizing her thoughts to apply for the Public Relations Society of America's "College of Fellows." (Kind of like having a root canal and an appendectomy at the same time!)

We actually were talking about something I am preparing to do that she has already been through, and she made one comment...not an earth-shaking revelation...just a common- sense observation about her own experience with this endeavor: "I sent everyone out of the house and sat down with my list of bullet-points of things that I wanted to make sure I covered in my interview."

My immediate thought was, like Homer Simpson, "D-Oh!!" Better do that, Kirk.

So, to wrap this rambling up...sometime, somewhere in your professional life...either as you're starting out or later on when you think you know will be called on to express your thoughts: "What do you see yourself contributing to this position at XYZ PR?"..."What do you think of your boss?"

If this is the ideal situation and you've had time to prepare, refer to your bullet-point list. If this is an "out-of-the-blue" encounter, take a deep breath...THEN talk.

The little girl had the making of a poet in her who, being told to be sure of her meaning before she spoke, said, "How can I know what I think till I see what I say?"
Graham Wallas, "The Art of Thought" [1926]


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  2. Keep saying this every day or every week to students and to professionals.

  3. That's what has made the PR profession so much fun for me...the opportunity to provide guidance based on knowledge and counsel founded on experience to clients or employers, and...yes!...students who one day will be the ones providing the advice and counsel!