I had a somewhat frustrating experience recently trying to help a group of would-be public relations practitioners understand the basic rules of grammar and punctuation. These are reasonably bright young men and women…juniors and seniors…all of whom should know how to format a direct quotation and use the correct wording.
Didn’t matter that I had provided them with examples. Didn’t matter that I had pointed out some excellent resources for fact-checking.
Nope. They stared at their computer screens or a printed version of their second draft with a baffled look…much like they had seen their first Martian.
One thing that I constantly and consistently hammer home to my students both at Curry College, where I teach most of the Communication Department’s undergrad PR courses, and at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication program, is that they know where to look for information.
Knowledge doesn’t fall out of the sky or grow on trees. It is the result of hard work, diligent study, and ability to conduct at least elementary research.
I assure my students that I neither know everything needed to succeed as a public relations professional nor wish to know everything.
What I do know is where to look to find what I need to know.
There are the reference books on my bookshelves. There is, of course, the internet. There are the hundreds of human contacts I have made over the years who have become part of my global network.
These are the resources that I turn to when I need answers or information or “how-tos”…in addition to the decades of experience-based knowledge that I have stored in my fuzzy brain.
The point here is, Grasshopper, that you have to take control of your own knowledge-building and education. First, you have to know what you don’t know. Then, you have to know where to turn to get the answers that you need.
You have to know where to look.
“Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt; Nothing’s so hard but search will find it out.”
Robert Herrick, “Hesperides. Argument of His Book – Seek and Find”