Lately, I’ve been incredibly inspired by reading the life stories of those who discover a strong sense of self built out of a solid moral compass and the absolute will change the world– no matter how big or small that change may be. Prominent memoirs such as Michelle Obama’s Becoming, James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty to Erin Lee Carr’s All That You Leave Behind reveal unique upbringings, sobering failures and sweet victories of strong-willed individuals, all of whom are now wildly successful in their own ways. Each of these stories showed me the connection between embracing your Truths and the ability to find success in professional life, a topic especially important to me as a PR gal still figuring out my path.
Most recently, my inspiration for success comes from America’s first female Vice President, Kamala Harris’ memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. I was hungry to find any bits of advice telling me how to be as confident as her in a professional space. In this case, her drive to change the world evolved into a platform now recognized on the national level. She brings us the story of young Kamala, the moments leading up to her epiphany for representing We The People, the women and mentors who helped her get there and the hard, yet universal, Truths learned along the way. Below, I have outlined the top three Truths I believe will make myself and others around me better PR professionals.
Test the Hypothesis
“But when you’re the daughter of a scientist, science has a way of shaping how you think. Our mother used to talk to Maya and me about the scientific method as if it were a way of life. When I’d ask her why something was the way it was, she wasn’t content to just give me the answer. She wanted me to formulate my own hypothesis, to challenge my assumptions.”
The scientific method can even be applied to PR! I love this Truth because it is how I learn to make intuitive decisions and use my resources each and every day here at MAPR. I don’t need to argue the obvious– learning on your own account and undoubtedly making mistakes along the way is scary and laborious when the answer could simply be handed over. Naturally, my instincts carry me towards what is familiar and comfortable. Luckily, MAPR does a wonderful job of providing detailed resource guides, updated as we all continue to learn, in order for us to build our own research skills through new employee guides and many other how-tos. Testing the hypothesis will make you a better PR professional because it will equip you with the confidence and know-how to become an ambitious problem solver and ignite powerful curiosity to continue telling clients’ stories.
Embrace the Mundane
Kamala tells the story of Bill Gates’ obsession with, you guessed it…fertilizer. He acknowledges it’s something he tries to limit discussion on at cocktail parties, but many of us miss its hidden triumphs.
“He explains that 40 percent of people on earth owe their lives to higher crop outputs that were made possibly only because of fertilizer. It was the literal fuel for the Green Revolution, which helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. What Gates understands is that there is a big difference between announcing a plan to end world hunger and actually ending it.”
She goes on to explain the importance of backing up “grand pronouncements” with “mastery of seemingly unimportant details, the careful execution of the tedious tasks, and the dedicated work done outside of the public eye that makes the changes we seek possible.”
Embracing the mundane is extremely important to me as a PR professional in an industry often hyped up by these sort of grand ideas. Contrary to popular belief, we are not in the business of “spin,” there is actually so much more to it! Successfully helping our clients tell their story, however that may look, calls for meticulous planning and creative solutions– both of which certainly embrace the mundane. The reality of embracing the mundane is carried out daily at MAPR through detailed Trello boards outlining everyone’s workload, the necessary details to complete it and due dates to complete it by. It has been said time and time again, if it’s not on Trello, it isn’t real work! Religiously practicing writing out the details will make you a better PR professional and overall communicator.
“Words have the ability to empower and to deceive, the power to soothe and to hurt. They can spread important ideas and wrongheaded ones. They can spur people to action, for good or ill. Words are incredibly powerful, and people in power, whose words can carry farthest and fastest, have an obligation– a duty– to speak them with precision and wisdom.”
Switching Kamala’s public servant lens with a PR lens, we understand words are the very foundation of what it means to be a PR professional. We use words every day. Whether it’s during weekly meetings with clients trying to establish quarterly goals or with our own teammates working together to share our clients’ stories with the world. Internalizing both the connotative and denotative meaning of the words we choose when writing, the content it represents and the audience it’s being directed to are what will make the work we do as PR professionals that much more impactful and timely.
At the end of the day, it’s all about discovering and accepting your own Truths. I’m inspired to achieve this every day, even when reading a good book. Testing the hypothesis, embracing the mundane and being intentional with words are the three Truths I believe we all can internalize and practice to become better PR professionals.