The importance of our roles in nonprofit and higher education PR recently struck me as I watched from my office window at the University of Kentucky as a stonemason skillfully and artfully cut and chiseled stones that have since become part of several new, handsomely designed walls in a plaza on campus.
As I watched, the stonemason’s unfailing devotion to the project’s final achievement captivated me. I marveled from a distance at his attention to detail. He seemed to know where each stone should instinctively go as he placed the gray limestone blocks with expert care and confidence.
Even though his signature will never appear chiseled on any of the stones or engraved on a bronze plaque honoring him, this craftsman’s passion will stand the test of time.
For the stonemason, his work is his signature—his calling.
Others who pass these walls casually or sit on them while conversing with friends and colleagues will never know this man’s name or appreciate the hours of sweat, muscle, skill, eye for detail and patience it took for him to accomplish his masterpiece.
But he will.
Give It Your All
Watching this stonemason was a beautiful reminder that no job is too big or too small. In addition, all of us, no matter our title or responsibilities, can help build and shape an affirming, can-do work environment that is purposeful, meaningful and electric. Like these stone walls, this work environment is built to withstand whatever form of weather arrives that day.
Your signature on the work you execute represents, like that stonemason’s, your reputation and credibility as a PR and marketing pro. And that is true any time you
- craft messages in response to crises
- strategically position thought leadership before targeted audiences
- execute and manage your brand
- purposefully place op-eds
- cultivate honest and productive relations with members of the media
- create ads, photographs or publications
- write news releases or pitch stories
- organize and manage a speakers bureau
- stand before audiences while representing your institution or organization
- thoughtfully post social media content
- attend meetings
- host and record podcasts
- lay out magazine pages
- coordinate special events and news conferences or
- perform all other duties as assigned
Few will know or appreciate the hours it took to accomplish those successful efforts—but you will. After all, genuine effort in our profession is not about the me, but on the we.
Never allow yourself to slip into giving a minimal effort. Give it your all! Your signature work should always strive to be your finest masterpiece. Everyone has an important role to play—including you.
The PR profession needs you. We need your heart, your passion and your desire to make a difference.
I know you will succeed!
Marc Whitt is director of media & strategic relations at the University of Kentucky’s Office of PR and Strategic Communications. He is author of “PR Lessons Learned Along the Way: Strategies, Tips & Advice for the Higher Ed and Nonprofit Public Relations Professional” (Cherrymoon Media), from which this article is excerpted.