I’ve recently been wondering what kind of job I’m getting myself into. When I mention to people I’m studying PR, some people scowl and make me out to be some kind of monster. I’ve been told I’m becoming a “professional brainwasher” and that it’s not public relations, it’s “Propaganda”.
(I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the practitioners who have acted completely unethically and given us this name.)
I think now though, the emphasis on public relations is communication and acting as ethically as possible because more often than not, when you are found out, we all know what will be hitting the fan.
I know as a public relations practitioner, I would want to act ethically; I want to be a communicator – not a monstrous lie twister.
It’s what we’re getting drilled into us at uni – “transparency.”
That being said, some of the stuff we’re being preached is sounding a bit idealistic. A teacher showed us a video of a mine that was shut down, with hundreds of workers losing jobs. He was criticising the public relations manager for putting an emphasis (to the media and workers) on the past; on great memories they’ve had and heritage they will leave behind.
He didn’t tell a single lie and gave all the journalists the information they asked for. Yet my teacher was of the opinion that he was in the wrong for not giving the whole picture.
I’m not sure what my teacher wanted – to get a distraught worker crying to the media about his hatred for the company? (I’m sure that would have done a world of good for everyone involved!)
There is a line. Somewhere between doing your job to uphold a reputation and being ethical and transparent.
This is where being in PR means not just good communication skills, but the logic, reasoning and moral compass to have the ability to walk this line.
I guess the obvious flaw lies within the fact that the line is different for everyone, and it is literally impossible to please everybody. The best I can do when I get out there is keep this in mind, know the possible implications of my actions and walk it the best I can.
Hopefully through my actions, I can prove them wrong!
So if I must be a monster, I’m going to be like Sully from Monsters Inc. The monster who manages to get the same job done without hurting anyone.