Every month, Tina McCorkindale and Mark Weiner dive into the deep end of the topical public relations pool to look at the lighter side of our profession. In this episode, we dive even deeper as we prepare to conquer 2022.
Mark: Well, Tina, the weather is colder. We brace ourselves before going outdoors. And when we forget to dress warmly, we suffer a little. But, now in the new year, you and I come together to write this column and the world becomes a surprisingly warm place.
Tina: Agree, Mark. But don’t you live in Florida? As you know I’m a big skier and you have to prepare before hitting the slopes or you can definitely suffer.
This is a great life metaphor, too, but being around others does help warm to soul. What do you think are the best gifts we can give others as we enter into this new year?
For 2022, I think the best gifts we can give ourselves and wish for others are grace, kindness, good health, and hope.
Mark: Collectively, we can make a difference, which is more than any one of us could do without the help of others. Especially at this time of year, we make ourselves and one another better. And that goes far beyond just you and me, this column, and our readers.
So, let me ask you what more we can do, starting here and now, within our public relations community. How can we elevate our profession by highlighting good causes (as well identifying a few unworthy causes to avoid)?
Tina: I think what we can do best is to give back to our community and our industry. I know we are all busy, but when we help others, we help ourselves and make our society stronger. That’s why I appreciate our IPR Trustees, like you, so much.
My favorite cause is, of course, the Institute for Public Relations. And we have some pretty good swag. Have you tried our Yeti coffee mug? Once you try it once, you’ll never go back to ceramic cups again. And IPR has great programs slated for 2022—more research, more master classes and more events. But I don’t want to go on too much…even though I can.
Mark: Tina, I admire your constraint and will respect your wishes. And for that reason, I won’t shill for my favorite PR book.
Among the most common challenges we face in public relations is a shared desire to elevate the status of our profession. We’ve written about it in this column. To begin, we need to understand the importance of our function, the richness of our history and to celebrate our belief in the work we do! To accomplish this, I believe in a common body of knowledge… an archival learning institution…a museum for public relations.
That’s why I nominate the appropriately named The Museum of Public Relations. Co-founders/co-directors Shelley and Barry Spector manage to bring the history of public relations to life with more than 5,000+ rare artifacts, oral histories, letters, photos and film. Visitors learn about the profession’s pioneers and their contributions to the practice.
Despite the pandemic, the Museum continues to serve the world’s growing community of public relations students, educators, researchers and practitioners by exploring and sharing the campaigns, crises and leading figures in public relations history, including the hidden figures in PR. Readers can support the museum by making a tax-deductible donation here.
We’ve shared our best ideas for causes to support, now let’s summon our inner Scrooge. What causes do you not support? Let’s call them “unworthy causes.”
Tina: I absolutely do not support science denial. As someone who leads a research-driven organization, I am particularly sensitive to this. Science-deniers are the individuals who can get vaccinated but choose not to because they don’t trust the science. Yet, they are willing to trust the science when they get severely ill and have to be hospitalized.
These are the individuals who put others at risk, who spread COVID-19 because they think it is a hoax, and who jeopardize our health care workers. I also put climate science deniers in this category.
Mark: My unworthy cause is “bad PR objectives.”
Every year, I judge a few of the PR awards programs…the ones that reflect “the best of the best.” And yet, 75% of the entries disqualify themselves by failing to meet the most basic criteria: “a measurable objective to which you quantify the degree to which you succeeded.”
While about 10% of entries get it right, 90% continue to rely on old shoes like “generate significant buzz” or ‘break through the media clutter.” It’s so easy to get it right and most fail. We once awarded a program with an annual budget of under $1,000 so it’s not about the money!
Tina: I couldn’t agree more. I get frustrated, too, when I judge awards. Plus, they should be written following the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Let’s also get rid of the word, “buzz.” And what’s your big wish for 2022?
Mark: I long to see my family, friends, and colleagues face-to-face in the new year. We had a taste of it in 2021 but it only whets my appetite for more in 2022.
Tina: I just want to be done with the pandemic and hope we all manage it better. And that people around the globe who have not had access to vaccines, medical attention or even basics like clean water, are able to get what they need.
So, we should probably wrap up and swing it back around to the cold. Mark, as someone who spends much of their winters in the snow, my advice for you is layering. Get yourself some good base and mid-layers, along with great gloves and socks. It’s going to get even colder before it gets warmer, in many ways.
Mark: But for you and me, my friend—with our common commitment to elevate the science beneath the art of public relations—the winter couldn’t matter less.
Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.
Mark Weiner is a research-based communications consultant. He’s an author and a Trustee with the Institute for Public Relations.