PR Training Thought Leadership

Professional Competency: Keeping Up with the Future

I often get asked by students as well as by my colleagues what I see in store…what’s in the future…for our profession. Colleagues because they think I have a clue; students because, as one said so elegantly the other day in class, “You’re old.”

Probably not the most tactful way of putting it. I prefer “experienced,” but…

We are seeing on what seems like an almost daily basis new platforms for communicating with our diverse publics. Just when I had comfortably wrapped my head around the wonders of Twitter as a valid and viable resource, along comes Twitter’s Vine application which makes it possible to include video as a tweet.

But, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been around long enough to have seen the introduction of that marvelous communication concept that allowed me to transmit…via telephone…written documents to anyone equipped with a similar contraption…the fax machine!!

We’re not the only profession for whom technological advances have made a difference. I recall numerous times in the past when my dentist cousin would wax effusive about a new gizmo that he had added to his repertoire of tooth-maintenance gear.

For the public relations profession, though, advances in communication technology have a much wider-reaching impact. And the potential for doing either good…OR harm…is correspondingly greater.

I accidentally (stupidly) punched “send” on an email recently to send a newsletter to a small but important (for me) audience…the 750-ish staff, faculty, and administration at Curry College, where I ride herd over the Communication Department’s undergraduate Public Relations Concentration.

Thank HEAVENS it was just a monthly update of COM Department activities…nothing that was going to change the world or spark global conflict.

But it was in the wrong format…not what I had intended to send. And the odds were, in that particular format, most folks weren’t going to read it.

No big deal, and I was able to “recall” and resend the newsletter in its proper format.

But I was reminded of the increasing immediacy of communication ability today. Not only can we immediately learn about (if we’re properly monitoring conversations relating to our employer or client) potential problems or opportunities; we can respond quickly when necessary.

As communication professionals we understand the necessity of keeping abreast of new developments that enable us to do our jobs more quickly, more efficiently, and more effectively.

PRSA is one valuable resource for fulfilling that need. Thanks to a plethora of on-line as well as on-site workshops and seminars, as well as the international conference and other major programs, we have access to the latest information and learning…a first-hand look at the future…from subject-matter experts who are recognized for their expertise in a particular area.

It’s no longer…hasn’t been for a long, long time, actually…enough to just be a good writer or a good events planner, or even a good counselor. We have to at least be aware of the latest technologies with which to communicate. And we have to stay even with…preferably ahead of…the curve.

PRSA prides itself on “serving the profession and the professional.” We, as public relations professionals, owe it to ourselves as well as to our clients or employers, to “keep up with the future.”

“If you are to be a successful public relations practitioner, you must have the capacity for absorbing much information quickly…You must become familiar with the communications media that convey ideas to people and intensify or change present attitudes. You must know where to find information to enable you to understand the publics with which you deal. – Edward L. Bernays, “Your Future in Public Relations” [1961]

About the author

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Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk was inducted into PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2009 and is one of just two actively-teaching college professors in Massachusetts to have earned this distinction. You can read more of Kirk’s musings at his blog “A Professor’s Thought” and follow him on Twitter @KirkHazlett.

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