My professional career began in RCA Victor’s Record Advertising Department where I wrote copy for albums “Little Nipper Albums.” Though I enjoyed the assignment, I found myself drawn more and more to the field of public relations and how it could serve corporate management, government and consumers.
Early in my career, and sometimes even now, I was not necessarily in step with my colleagues about the meaning and scope of public relations practitioners. At times we refer to our field from the narrow perspective of skills such as press releases, spin, special events and glitzy presentations. All of this is necessary to expand communications and visibility with constituents at all levels but it is not the total picture.
I believe public relation practitioners need to understand and question internal policy with regard to fulfilling the organizational mission. The practitioner needs to become conversant with organizational minutes, rules and regulations and whether or not they are being followed. Is what we say what we do? If not, what do we need to do? Do we plan for failure? How do we ameliorate deteriorating situations? Is there conflict internally between departments/employees? What do we do about complaints? In short, these questions need to be a part of the PR practitioner’s role in serving as employee or consultant.
I attribute my professional and personal growth to Temple University’s Program for people with a handicap or disability. I took my job at a time when people who appeared different from everyone else were hidden at home or institutionalized. I had no previous experience with people with special needs. Temple’s program brought me in touch with clients, staff, families and community members who served to increase my knowledge about the potential in all of people.
I count research and listening to others, as among the most crucial skills public relations practitioners need. Before I moved to St. Louis, I found both at PPRA meetings. I still maintain my membership as it helps me stay current and keep up with many friends from whom I learned the importance of compromise and team work.
The advice I would pass on to young professionals is always ask the question. Before you plan anything, use my PAM FORMULA (P=What is our purpose? A=Who is our audience? M=What is our message?)
This blog post was written by PPRA Life Member Beverly Rehfeld.