Your Career and You: “Public Relations and Ironing Clothes”


Publication1It’s Sunday morning, and I’ve just wrapped up the first set of tasks that I’ve inherited over the past 40-plus years of married life, one of which is ironing clothes.

I actually enjoy this chore, and I used to think I was probably a “little” weird because of it. That is, until I was having a chat with my president at the Blood Bank of Hawaii way back when. We were comparing notes on our relatively frenetic lives, and I mentioned that I enjoyed ironing clothes, to which she responded, “So do I!”

We both agreed that ironing clothes was a therapeutic action for us. Our workdays were filled with ever-changing twists and turns that kept us “on” pretty much all the time. Ironing clothes on the other hand, as we both agreed, had a beginning and an end. We could control the action.

As we talked more, I realized that this seemingly mundane task was very similar to my day-to-day challenges as a public relations professional.

How and why? Simple! The basic steps in ironing are…
1. Gather all the clothes in need of ironing. (Research)
2. Set up the ironing board; fill the iron with water and turn it on. (Action)
3. Take each item and iron until wrinkles are gone. (Communication)
4. Check to see that all clothes in need of ironing are, in fact, neatly ironed and ready to wear. (Evaluation)

Sure, you will have to repeat the process next week or whenever your ironing cycle comes around again. But you will have successfully addressed the challenge and you have an operable plan!

And, just as in public relations life, occasionally there will be a need to re-iron a recently-worn item because of an unexpected occasion that requires wearing it. (Crisis Management)

Our main goal as public relations professionals is to “engineer” (Edward L. Bernays’ description) a mutual understanding between our client or employer and those publics with whom we wish to (or must) conduct our business. (Wrinkle-free clothes)

We want those publics (or “audiences” if you prefer that term) to view our client or employer favorably. (Neatly-pressed appearance)

Occasionally we will have to take special extra steps to ensure that favorable opinion. (Starch on clothes)

In the end, though, we will have accomplished our mission. So the next time you’re facing a pile of wrinkled clothes, don’t think of it as “another mindless household chore.” Look at it as a very solvable public relations challenge!

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About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 10 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in Action, Communication, Evaluation, Planning, PR, public relations, Research, Thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Your Career and You: “Public Relations and Ironing Clothes”

  1. I love the way you have compared PR to ironing clothes especially the crisis management part.

  2. Jan Hunter says:

    Kirk, Its a fun analogy. I often refer working in PR to pulling rabbits out of hats! 🙂

    • kirkhazlett says:

      Thanks, Jan. Rabbits out of hats works, too! I also refer to our work as a “dating service” on occasion…some of my colleagues get a little miffed!! 🙂

  3. I certainly won’t think of ironing the same anymore; nor washing dishes, from collecting to putting up in the cupboard. Great way of describing and simplifying; I’ll definitely be sharing your analogy.

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