Public Relations… a New Pathway


Original drawing by Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid

The end of the program is coming soon, so this is a good opportunity to think about the PR courses I have taken and what I want to do next with what I now know. When I registered for this program, I knew a little bit about Public Relations, although I didn’t know how interesting I would find it. After taking these PR courses, I like what I have learned. I enjoy the analytical thinking that is required, and I have a much better understanding of the kinds of research required and how to apply that research.

For example, I discovered new ways of approaching a case study for the assignments. I was amazed how first ideas for developing a PR plan changed as I did more and more research, and how I could develop a strategy from a point of view completely different from the one I started with.  I learned the importance that the role of storytelling plays in a plan and how stories can be the medium to communicate the message; stories touch people and can open the door for two-way communication.

Nancy Duarte, in her book Persuasive Presentations, talks about ways to inspire action, engage the audience, sell your ideas, and create something the audience will always remember. I believe these concepts can be transferred to PR because we need to reach our audience and engage them with our messages. This is a big challenge for any PR practitioner. Duarte says,

“…Stories have the power to win customers, align colleagues, and motivate employees. They’re the most compelling platform we have for managing imaginations. Those who master this art form can gain great influence and an enduring legacy….”

Another aspect of PR I learned is how important it is to be aware of current and global events, and how some of these events can impact the organization where we work. This realization will help me form my own opinions so that I can communicate, for example, with city councils or legislators in meaningful ways. Also, to be part of this global community and understand issues and events that affect other cultures will help me see different viewpoints outside my own world.

I also learned the importance of the sincere apology, particularly when a crisis comes up. Through different examples, we saw the effects that an apology can have on public opinion. BP CEO Tony Hayward said during BP spill crisis, “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” It sounds as if Hayward is much more concerned about his own life than the lives of all the animals and people the oil spill impacted. This is not an effective apology. When Maple Leaf CEO claimed responsibility for the listeria outbreak and took action immediately without blaming anybody, we saw how beneficial an effective apology can be.

I’m excited about what is coming next. Before these courses, I never thought that PR could be so fascinating – a pathway I would be interested in following. Now, I look forward to the opportunity to apply all this new knowledge in the real world and build my own PR story.