Thursday, November 3, 2011
Your Career and You: "Be Proud of What You Do"
I had the honor recently of emceeing PRSA Capital Region Chapter’s 4th annual “Empire Awards” program. Flew to Albany, NY, in rain, arrived in snow, and had a ball.
The attendees represented all facets of the communication as well as the education world...from senior PR practitioner to senior PR student. The energy pervading the event was enough to light up the western hemisphere.
I had a chance to chat with some of the folks both before and after the program, and one common thread bound us all together...a firm belief in the power of PR to influence opinion and more audiences to action.
What I found particularly interesting was in chatting with the more seasoned practitioners whose entries had made it into the finalist category. They were the epitome' of "cool." Been there; done that...for years.
But looking into their eyes, I saw excitement. They wanted to pretend this was just “business as usual.” But the eyes gave it away…they were excited to be there, and they were proud of their entries…of the accomplishments realized through the program’s success.
In my introductory remarks that evening, I cited this quotation from Edward L. Bernays, who many of us regard as the “Father of Public Relations”...
“Public relations does not mean selling a product, an idea, or a personality. Instead, it depends fundamentally on doing – action and deeds that are geared to public understanding and acceptance. Words are only incidental to the process.”
And this was the reason for the pride that I saw glimmering in these folks’ eyes…the pride of having done something on behalf of an employer or a client that truly made a difference…that changed opinions or motivated people to take action.
Public relations is a wonderful science. It takes into account individual perceptions and behaviors in the development and implementation of programs that result in groups acting in a desired manner.
PR practitioners recognize that, while no two people are exactly alike, when presented with rational and persuasive reasons to act in a certain way, groups of people will, in fact, do just that.
This is something I try to pass on to my undergraduate Communication students at Curry College, where I both oversee the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses.
Public relations is a powerful tool that can be used to inform, inspire, and motivate individuals, societies, and nations to consider and, if appropriate in their minds, adopt a particular course of action.
In my various previous lives as public relations representative for organizations ranging from the US Army to Honeywell Electro-Optics Division to the Blood Bank of Hawaii, I have developed and managed communication programs that got attention and helped accomplish our mission.
I would never claim that everything I dreamed up was a screaming success. Some things actually went up in spectacular flames. But, at the end of the day, what I did (we…sometimes I actually had accomplices in my schemes!) made a difference…to the organization…to the people served by the organization.
And that’s the point here…to make a difference by doing the best you can do for your employer or client…and to take pride in what you do.
“He [Columbus] enjoyed long stretches of pure delight as only a seaman can know, and moments of high, proud exultation that only a discoverer can experience.” - Samuel Eliot Morrison, “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” , ch. 49