Posts Tagged ‘values’

I’ve been an independent public relations consultant for 26 years now, spending part of that time running my own shop complete with a staff, and part of that time just operating as a solo practitioner.  This week, after years of preparation – studying at Syracuse for my Master’s, moving back to Oregon – I finally add teaching to the mix.  For a time I was unsure about the main message I wanted to impart to my students in an advanced public relations course, and I finally realized it’s the same message I always give to those who ask about becoming an entrepreneur: know your own values.

When you communicate on behalf of others, whether they be clients or the people in the company or organization for which you work, your communication must come from your whole self – from your heart.   Your values have to be a match. In this profession, you really cannot operate on the fence; you can’t take a job just because the pay is great or you like the benefits or the company name packs a lot of prestige with it. When you are interviewing for a job, even in this difficult economy – perhaps especially in this difficult economy – you need to be looking at the company as closely as that company is looking at you.

Likewise, if you are an independent agency or solo practitioner, you need to choose your clients carefully. A year-round retainer fee has anyone’s attention; so does a prestigious name; so does the chance to do work that will be both extremely important and extremely visible.

But the same advice holds.  There are a couple of easy examples which make the point.  Suppose you are adamantly pro-life, and your organization decides to do some work for the pro-choice people wanting to keep the option of legal abortion open for women.  Or suppose you come down strongly on the environmentalist side of things, and are asked to do some work for an open-pit mine.

Are you willing to consider a point of view at odds with your own?  Are you willing to look at a set of facts you may not have considered before?  Are you able to foresee the consequences of the work you’ll be doing? 

How has that company interviewing you reacted to a past crisis in its organization?  Was there any lying or stonewalling?  Did you like the way employees were treated during the crisis? 

These questions are more critical today than ever, because we live in a time of increased transparency and – sometimes – it seems we face increased cynicism out there.  So when it comes to communication, know yourself – and to thine own self be true, as the Bard once said.

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