In the “Man in the Grey Flannel Suit,” Gregory Peck’s character is essentially told that having a “clean shirt” is the most necessary asset for working in PR. (Sorry the clip has been taken down from YouTube.) Contrary to the opinion espoused in this great film, Public Relations is more than just a clean shirt and bathing regularly (though it helps). Public relations is a profession that ethically identifies, develops and creates strategies to communicate the key messages of the client.
If you’re in business or have an organization that depends on engagement with others, then you have a message; whether it’s about a product, service, organization or cause. You also have thousands of potential avenues to deliver that message: television channels, radio stations, blogs, micro-blogs, podcasts and publications.
A Public Relations professional should have the strategic and tactical experience to tailor your message and identify the right channel for the best possible impact–ethically and tastefully.
We’re curious about your impressions of Public Relations–as a profession or its practitioners. We’re under no illusions that you have a 100% positive impression of Public Relations. Frankly, we’ve seen plenty of people who have no business being in PR. That’s why we work hard to earn your respect and demonstrate the positive aspects of Public Relations. To be candid, we in the Public Relations profession need to be better at spreading our own message…at telling our own story.
We think a conversation between people outside the profession and those of us working to make it better is a good start.
So, leave us your comments–let us know what you think about “PR”: the good, the bad and the ugly.
There’s a lot of talk of “rugged individualism” these days–of making it on your own or being a “maverick” (or branding yourself as one. See: Palin, Sarah).
I’ve noticed this tendency in myself–I’m not much of a joiner. That isn’t to say I haven’t been that proverbial “good team player;” just that I trust my instincts and find solitary pursuits (writing, running a business, hiking, watching Zombi 2 every October) fulfilling and stimulating.
However, there comes a time when going it alone–or improvising– are not only not the best options–but not options at all.
The legendary first man on the Moon himself, Neil Armstrong spoke about the need for teamwork on his historic mission in a letter to NPR’s Robert Krulwich:
I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?
Today Neil Armstrong wrote in to say, here are the reasons:
- It was really, really hot on the moon, 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We needed protection.
- We were wearing new-fangled, water-cooled uniforms and didn’t know how long the coolant would last.
- We didn’t know how far we could go in our space suits.
- NASA wanted us to conduct our experiments in front of a fixed camera.
But basically, he says, we were part of a team and we were team players on a perilous, one-of-a-kind journey. Improvisation was not really an option. (emphasis mine)
Sure, you’re probably not landing on another planet as part of your business, but you are doing things everyday that effect the profitability of your company.
Part of my hesitance to be a team guy probably stems from my early career as a journalist. Reporters aren’t team players–at least they weren’t in the newsrooms I haunted. When I moved from journalism to PR, my early jobs were at companies where I was basically a one-man shop. That changed as my career progressed, but old habits die hard. Even when I had staff and team members to work with I had a tough time letting go of some things. That may also have had something to do with my ego, too.
Though I now run a truly one-man shop, I’ve learned to call upon strategic partners who can do some things better than me. I want my clients to not only get the results of the best job I can do, but I want them to get the best results possible. Period.
Ask yourself: does your learned behavior, ego or even insecurity prevent you from being a team player when it counts? Make sure when you make that one small step for (a) man…well, you get the idea.
According to U.S News, Public Relations as a profession might just be a growth industry:
Employment of public-relations specialists is expected to increase by more than 66,000 jobs, or 24 percent, between 2008 and 2018, according to the Labor Department.
Almost condescendingly, they report that it’s not too tough to get into, education-wise:
There’s a lot of upside to this job, given that it requires only a bachelor’s degree.
And you can also earn a decent living:
Median annual earnings for PR specialists last year were about $51,960, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $30,520 and the highest-paid 10 percent made upwards of $96,000.
Check out the rest of the article for their take on stress level, type of activity and the effect of social media on the profession.
Of course, if you want my opinion about PR as a profession…just ask. All you PR vets out there, feel free to weigh in on the profession, too. And finally–all you newbies and students thinking of PR as a career–what do you think–or what do you want to know?
The comments section is open!