Saturday, October 23, 2010
Your Career and You: "Never Stop Learning"
I attended the Public Relations Society of America's 2010 International Conference in Washington, DC, last week and came away, as usual, even more excited about my chosen career field.
PR people...successful PR people...are learners. They grow up absorbing all that life has to offer; they go to college to add to that knowledge. Then, when opportunities like this annual conference come along, they turn out in droves to learn even more.
Not only were there a couple thousand PR professionals and educators in the mix; the Public Relations Student Society of America held its annual conference a few days before...also in DC...and more than 1,000 students...future PR professionals...were in attendance as well!
How cool is that?!?
All these people, young and old, men and women...more than 3,000 in all...gathered together to take advantage of additional educational opportunities outside the workplace and outside the classroom.
I realized, as I was sitting in keynote speaker sessions with more than 1,000 other attendees and in breakout sessions that had, on average, 50 people eagerly listening and taking notes, that the "secret" to success, if there is a secret, is keeping your mind refreshed with new information.
I got back to Curry College on Wednesday and spent the remainder of the week sharing my experiences with my public relations students. Then, today, I taught my graduate communications class at Regis College and did the same.
Why? Because I want to emphasize the importance of learning...the value of seeking new information.
The world is changing, and what was "new" yesterday is now a standard part of everyday business. Something new has taken its place, and you, as a public relations professional, have to be aware of that change and be able to incorporate it into your daily routine as a counselor and advisor.
The way I see it, which would you rather have happen? You suggesting a communication strategy involving, for example, social media as a means of reaching target audiences? Or your boss asking you why you're not using a communication strategy involving social media?
I, for one, would prefer to suggest the concept and have my client say, "What a great suggestion. I'm lucky to have you as my PR counsel."
For those of you who moan piteously, "I'm so busy. I just don't have time for all that extra stuff," I say, "Your choice, my friend." Then I say to myself, "And don't come whining to me when your boss or client decides that the grass is greener elsewhere and invites you to move on."
There are any number of ways through which to take advantage of educational opportunities. In today's world, this includes online activities including webinars and chat sessions as well as traditional in-person events.
I was talking with one of my PR concentration students (a future superstar, by the way, of whom I expect great things!) at Curry yesterday about the various communication-focused organizations in the Boston area and came up with a list of six whose programs I attend whenever I can...there are probably more...these are the ones I know about and go to.
If you look in your area, you'll find at least one or two, probably more. Seek them out. Go to their programs when the topic sounds interesting.
And, while you're at it...network. You're in the midst of like-minded people, so take advantage of their knowledge as well!
In the end, when it comes to either looking for your first job or looking for a move in a new or more challenging direction, these efforts will pay off. You will be able to show your determination to succeed. You've never stopped learning!
"Properly speaking, for the public relations man, as for every other person whose life is more than unthinking routine, the processes of education should never cease."
Edward L. Bernays, "A definitive study of Your Future in Public Relations"