Friday, August 29, 2008

President's Column from the September eChaser

"Remember, your grandmother was a lady."

My mom used this phrase with me all my life, and during her upbringing her mother echoed this phrase more often than not.

It is a simple and sweet reminder that one's "good name" and reputation are things to be cherished and protected.

As my girls get older, I find myself passing down these same words of wisdom along with lots of gentle advice.

As PR practitioners we're also obligated to help, preserve and protect the reputations of the organizations, companies and clients we serve. This is an immense responsibility and one that can never be taken too lightly.

Our September program speaker, Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, will describe how to best safeguard reputation and will discuss strategies that can help restore a damaged reputation. As part of the professional development workshop on the morning of Sept. 10, and during the luncheon program, she’ll touch on many of the points she makes in her new book: "12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation."

I hope you’ll be able to join us, and while you are at it, bring along some of your parents' good advice and maybe we'll have time to share it!

Update from a call with Leadership and Assembly Delegates

Thanks to Dan Keeney, APR, Assembly Delegate for his report/update!

This year’s assembly will be focused on the future, and will be looking at issues beyond PRSA and the impact on the profession overall.

* National is introducing a think tank concept that may impact how assemblies in the future operate – giving the delegates an opportunity to actually shape the strategy of the organization (rather than handling relatively mundane matters that frankly don’t require people to travel from across the country to vote).

* This year the delegates will be shaping what the “think tank” concept might look like and how it would operate on a going forward basis. There seems to be some momentum toward developing a code of professional standards – distinguished from the code of ethics because there is recognition that ethical behavior may nonetheless reflect poorly on the practice of PR.

* The example of a “professional standard” given was billing practices, best practices in media pitching and how to engage bloggers. Basically best practices aimed at diminishing criticism of PR.

Stay tuned. More information coming soon as we get closer to the October National Conference and the National Assembly.

Congratulations are in order!

Finalists have been named for the PR People Awards, presented by PR News. The winners will be announced at the PR People Awards Luncheon on November 6, 2008, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Among others, you'll likely recognize these finalists. Congratulations!

Educator/Research Experts of the Year

Leslie Gaines Ross, Weber Shandwick (GFW PRSA's September luncheon speaker)

PR Professional of the Year: Nonprofit/Association

Emily Callahan, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (GFW PRSA's January luncheon speaker)

Publicist or Spokesperson of the Year

Ken Capps, DFW International Airport (GFW PRSA Member)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Diversity Without Opportunity is Just Talk

(This post fist appeared Thursday, August 14, on the Next Communications Blog

I attended the Greater Fort Worth Chapter PRSA's August luncheon and meeting where the group heard from a panel on diversity.

The topic, Working Diversity into the Workplace promised to be at best, an interesting approach to something that seems fundamental OR at worst, a nice way to get out of the office and have some pretty good fajitas.

Personal aside: It was kind of funny that we had our diversity session at a famous Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth.
(Thanks, Terry.)

Photo credit: chrisjfry

The People
We were introduced to a panel that included:
  • Mitch Hill, Baylor Hospital (social worker)
  • Leah King, Chesapeake Energy (community relations)
  • Tom Burke, IBM (communications/public relations)
  • Dora Tovar, Tovar PR (public relations)
  • Ken Reeves, Bell Helicopter (human resources)
I was immediately struck by the make-up of the group. Aside from the obvious male/female/ethnic differences, our chapter diversity chair had an interesting mix of PR and non-PR professionals. I had an idea of how PR can help address diversity to build and maintain relationships. What I was looking forward to was seeing how this group would approach the topic.

Thoughts on diversity vs. culture
Here are a few of the thoughts that resonated with me:

Mitch Hill thinks we wear many masks and take on multiple cultures.
"There is diversity within myself," he said. "Once we understand this about ourselves, we can move forward."
Leah King said she lived oversees and takes a much broader approach to diversity.

Tom Burke pointed out how IBM approaches diversity.
"[IBM is] welcoming everyone to the workplace regardless of differences un-related to their job functions."
Letter from IBM's Vice President of Global Workforce Diversity, Ron Glover

Tom also made what I thought to be an excellent point about our topic.
"Diversity is not created, it already exists."
Dora Tovar spoke more on culture, telling the group that culture in the U.S. is very individual and is in constant change.
"Those that can adapt and change will be the most marketable."
She also pointed out that diversity is about representation and culture is about identity.

Ken Reeves followed Tovar and gave his perspective on diversity stating that it is not just about representation, it's about opportunity. He explained how as an ex-NFL player he had to develop a strategy to diversify himself and about the corporate strategy at Bell Helicopter related to diversity.
"Until [diversity] translates into opportunity for everyone, it's just talk."
Moving forward
Each of the panelists brought an enlightened perspective on diversity that went beyond the typical race, ethnicity, sex, religions, etc.

Also, going back to Mitch Hill's reference, the mask metaphor, in my opinion, is fundamental to human communication. It is a great explainer for the different roles we play on a daily basis. We are different (diversity within ourselves) depending on our audience. When I am at home, I play the husband and father roles. At work, my mask is that of a communications/PR professional. With friends...With other family members...With new people...etc. These are all roles that are within me. We all have the different masks to wear. It's not hiding. It's playing the role of a human.

Lastly, the notion that diversity without opportunity is a significant next step. It is not about checking off boxes to make sure your company has this many women or that many Latinos. It is about recognizing the business strategy, objectives, and benefits behind a diversity opportunities.

What do you think? Do you consider yourself to be personally diverse? Do you think you wear masks? Can diversity translate into opportunity?