My students at Curry College hear this all the time from me: “Never stop learning.”
Most of them, having willingly (or not!) suffered through at least two or three of my PR-related courses, have figured out the best response is a gentle sigh and understanding nod of the head. They know they’ll hear it a dozen or more times in the course of the semester, so they humor me.
So it was with a gigantic sigh of satisfaction last night that I heard the guest speaker for our PR student association say exactly the same thing as part of her “how I got where I am and how I’ll get ahead” presentation.
Happily, I saw a number of the gathered crowd jotting her remarks down…as though a bolt of lightning had blasted through the room.
I know a lot of us feel as though we’ve seen or experienced it all…or are too close to the end of our career’s roller coaster ride for continuing education to really matter anymore.
I’m realizing more and more, though, that what I do know and what I have experienced only prepare me for yesterday’s and, maybe, today’s challenges.
I don’t know…and I seriously doubt any of us really know…what lies in store for us tomorrow.
I’m old enough to remember the “Dick Tracy” series in the comics and his wristwatch-radio with which he communicated with his colleagues. My impression at the time was “nice ‘dreaming’ but that kind of communication will never really happen.”
This thought came to mind last night as I stood in the back of the room listening to the CCPRSA guest speaker while tweeting and Facebooking comments about the speaker’s remarks on my palm-sized phone.
- Who knew that mobile communication would become part-and-parcel of the current-day interaction process?
- Who knew that internet-based communication platforms would become the default means of communicating with our publics, with the media, and with the world in general?
- More important to me…who knew that we, as communication professionals, would have to become knowledgeable about and reasonably proficient in the application of these platforms?
Well…apparently someone knew, because I, for one, can recall attending a program here at Boston back in the early 80s in which the speaker talked enthusiastically about and provided a demonstration of computer-based communication methods. I also recall, in the late 70s, attending a demonstration of remote (Massachusetts-Arizona) computer-based communication.
Our challenge as public relations professionals is to keep ourselves informed/educated about new and emerging technologies and techniques so that we are able to provide clients or employers with the very best counsel and service we can.
We do this by taking advantage of online and in-person opportunities to see and to learn. While I always give a grateful tip of the hat to PRSA for its amazingly diverse slate of programs, I also remind my students (and others) that there usually are other organizations in their area that offer sometimes similar, sometimes different, opportunities to learn. Look around you…you might be pleasantly surprised.
The main thing here is that opportunities to learn never stop…and the learning process should do the same. Regardless of our “place” in our professional lives, we should…no…we must…continue to study and to learn in order that we might be not just proficient in, but on the cutting edge of, the techniques and technologies that define our profession.
“In my lifetime, changes have taken place that often demanded revision of the conduct of our lives. New lifestyles were brought about by science and invention as well as by the social sciences. Some causes could be foreseen; others could not. The public had to adjust as best it could.” – Edward L. Bernays, Public Relations Quarterly: “Closing Up the Cultural Time Lag” [Summer 1983]
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. He also is Visiting Lecturer, Organizational and Professional Communication (Graduate), at Regis College in Weston, 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 previously served as a Member of PRSA’s national Board of Directors and has held leadership positions with PRSA Educators Academy and PRSA Northeast District as well as with the Boston and Hawaii PRSA chapters.