The beauty of the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one is that it gives a perfectly good and timely excuse to do something for ourselves and our profession that we should have been doing on a continual basis all along…re-evaluation and reinvention. Forget the clichéd New Year Resolutions thing…they never seem to stick beyond a few days or weeks at best regardless. We’re talking wholesale reinvention, not some minor personal tweaking like quitting smoking or losing ten pounds. (For the sake of honesty, I must fess up to the fact that thirty-one years ago, a new year resolution to quit smoking not only held but also was the best thing I ever did for my personal health. Now, that ten pounds thing has been a bit tougher…)
Re-evaluation? Reinvention? Ok, the re-evaluation is the easier of the two…but not always. It’s tough to take a hard look at ourselves and how we’ve conducted ourselves professionally…and be brutally honest in the examination. The PR profession is an easy target for others and most of us are used to being on the defensive against criticism. However, most of this criticism comes from outside our professional ranks from those that have the least knowledge of either the business framework or the processes employed. The criticism generally falls into the category of some kind of “devious manipulation of the truth or the public good” through some nefarious campaign designed and executed by a bunch of suits in a corporate boardroom. There are times that every PR pro wished that that kind of absolute control were possible, but in my forty years, I’ve never seen it…zip, nada.
But on a smaller more individual scale there is not one of us that cannot look back on shortcuts we’ve made, clients we’ve taken with less than noble causes to promote, disingenuousness (lies?) to get a reporter interested, or my continuing favorite…client fees (both hourly and otherwise) inflated for the bottom line (ours, not the clients’.) These, plus the one most abused…an exaggeration of our own self-importance…are the critiques we need to make on ourselves and note. Ah, but correcting them, therein lies the real problem.
Given that each new year and decade opens with an attitude of self-renewal and a positive vibe for what can yet be accomplished, and that this year being even more so because of the depths of negatively from whence we have just come, why not give it a shot? I’m personally betting on the future more than ever… that my and our collective actions together can influence change this year. That clients, the ever-evolving media upon which we depend on for so much, and others in this profession will respond to difficult, but oh so simple, changes… like fairness in billing and in payment, promotion and coverage of real news, not opinion, and a little humility and civility in our interaction with each other.
As my favorite politician said a long time ago… “Some men dream of things that never were and say, why? Others dream of things that never were and say, why not?”
Sounds like a good way to start this new year.