Every once in a while (although it seems like more frequently these days) I get a message that either (a) sends cold chills up my spine or (b) baffles me. Or both.
Because the sender obviously spent less than a micro-second actually thinking about what he or she was asking.
My students at Curry College, where I ride herd over the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, and at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area, get this lecture a lot…and I’ll keep on hammering away.
Back to the “tipping point” (hats off to Malcolm Gladwell for this!): This morning, I received a tweet from someone claiming to be part of a PR firm.
At least that’s what he/she said.
No information available on this person’s Twitter page to give me a clue who this person is or where he/she is located.
Checked the website: “Under construction.”
Nonexistent on Facebook or LinkedIn so far as I can tell.
But… (Insert dramatic background music (<=or click here!) …in your head!)
I also got a message asking for my email address so he/she could send me something.
Blue flashing lights and blaring alarms went off.
“What’s the big deal?” you ask.
I answer, “Google ‘Kirk Hazlett.’”
What’s the first thing that pops up?
It’s called “research,” my friends, and we do it…A LOT…in public relations.
Before we send off a pitch letter…or a news release…or an events calendar listing…we check to see, if possible, to whom that bit of information should go.
Before we meet with a potential…new...or current client, we check to see what we can learn about that client or what has been going on recently with the client.
I’m not saying you always can find what you’re looking for right off the bat. Sometimes it takes a little digging. But, especially in today’s Internet-based world, it’s very do-able…and very, very informative.
(Full disclosure: I Googled my name several years ago and discovered, unbeknownst to me or anyone who knows me, “Kirk Hazlett, age 35” had escaped from prison. I was, at the time, in my late 50s, so I figured it wasn’t me and went on about my day. But I have always thought…what if I had been looking for a job, and a prospective employer had checked me out online?!? Yowza!!)
“Homework” doesn’t stop when you graduate from high school or college. In fact, I would argue, after more than 40 years’ experience either as a PR pro or as a PR prof, that it just begins when you graduate!
Oftentimes, though…in my world, at least…the answers aren’t conveniently located at the back of the book.
You have to assemble a pile of facts, moosh (a “Kirk-word”) them together a bit, and come up with the answer on your own based on your knowledge, your understanding of the situation you’re dealing with, and the input of others.
Then, and only then, do you make a recommendation or take a course of action.
It’s called “doing your homework.”
BTW…haven’t heard “boo” from the individual I was talking about in the beginning!
“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”
– Samuel Johnson, from Boswell’s “Life of Johnson” [April 18, 1775]