The horrific event that shattered the global gathering of Boston Marathon participants and spectators brought into clear focus for me the vital importance of the meaning “together.”
As I monitored both social media conversations and traditional media coverage, one fact became abundantly clear: no matter who you are, where you are from, or in whom you believe…“no man is an island.”
This became abundantly clear as I noted in particular the conversations on Facebook of students past and present with and about their friends. They reached out, reassured, and reflected on the day’s events. A palpable sense of “community” permeated the day.
And, although in some cases the people themselves were hundreds if not thousands of miles apart, they were comforted individually and collectively by the knowledge that they were not alone…in their emotions, in their reactions, in their moments of anxiety…and relief.
This brought into clear focus for me one key value of the public relations profession…our charge to communicate with others, to foster and encourage a sense of community among our various stakeholders, and to help nurture an understanding of events and activities that impact our lives.
In a sense, this event serves to highlight one of the tenets of Arthur W. Page’s “Principles of Public Relations Management”: “Remain calm, patient, and good-humored…Lay the groundwork for public relations miracles with consistent, calm and reasoned attention to information and contacts. When a crisis arises, remember that cool heads communicate best.”
Public relations, as we all know so well, is so much more than helping a client or employer succeed as a business entity.
Yes, that is what keeps the figurative (or literal) food on our tables and pay our bills. But it also is what creates and nurtures a comforting cloak of understanding that knits disparate segments of our societies together and fosters cooperative communication that unites communities, societies, and nations.
It is my hope, as well, that public relations will enable us as human beings equipped with the frailties that make us human to once again get past the stark realities of the present and set our respective courses for the possibilities of a better future.
“For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” – Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet”
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.