It’s “downtime” for me. We’re on winter break at Curry College, where I manage our undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR…along with introductory Mass Communication and occasional Writing for Communication…courses.
I was good for about the first 48 hours of this supposed “vacation.” Then I got seriously bored. And, as many folks who have worked with me in the past can attest, you do not want a bored Kirk…things can get messy really fast!
The problem is that I absolutely and totally love what I’m doing now, what I did in my previous career, and what I am preparing young up-and-coming (as I term them) “PR rockstars” to do. And if I’m not doing it, I get antsy.
Mind you, I don’t have any misconceptions about my classroom performance. I know there are others who are a heck of a lot better at this “teacher” thing than I, just like there were (and still are) public relations professionals who made my efforts look downright amateurish. So be it.
What I like to think I do offer is a wholehearted, in-your-face commitment to and belief in the principles that are the basis for public relations.
I want my students…especially those who have chosen the PR Concentration as their focus within the Communication major…to understand deep inside the responsibility that working in our field carries.
We are trusted by clients or employers to represent them to the “outside” world as well as to the internal employee audiences…and to help create an awareness and build an understanding of why they are important to both.
And we are trusted by those audiences, external and internal, to say and do everything openly and honestly. As public relations pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee said so well back in 1906 in his Declaration of Principles, “Ours is not a secret society.” Today we call it “transparency.”
Unlike lawyers, bus drivers, and real estate agents, though, we are not “licensed” as public relations professionals. Our credibility lies in our ability to accomplish sometimes seemingly miraculous deeds on behalf of others. While we know much of this lies in, first, the relationships that we have forged with our colleagues in the media and elsewhere, and, second, in our ability to communicate effectively, others see us as having a mysterious ability to “get ink.”
Whatever the case, we do what we do because we are professionals who are able, through action and deed, to “connect the dots” between our client or employer and the publics with whom he or she wishes to do business. And we do this with a passion that drives our efforts.
I’ve said this before…“public relations is both an art and a science.” The “art” aspect comes in our ability to create the communication vehicle through which the story is told. The “science” lies in our understanding of how the communication process works…how messages flow from sender to receiver and, in so doing, inspire the receiver to take a desired action as a result of that story.
Successful public relations practitioners let their love for the process show through in each and every thing they do…they show their passion and their professionalism every step of the way. Are you passionate about your profession??