PR: The New Priesthood?

When I tell people that I’m studying for a career in public relations, I’m invariably asked the same question: “So what kind of job can you get with that?” My usual answer is, “Well, any kind of job.” That’s the great thing about PR. As Al Pacino, playing John Milton/Satan in the film The Devil’s Advocate, once so succinctly stated about being a lawyer, “Because the law, my boy, puts us into everything. It’s the ultimate backstage pass. It’s the new priesthood, baby.” To me, that’s PR. Every industry that’s worth its salt needs to communicate with its publics, and that’s where we come in…it’s the new priesthood, baby!

The thing about learning PR is that there is no right or wrong on answer on how to approach a problem. It’s all about having that common touch…either you got it or you don’t…and building upon it along the way. However, there are a few time-tested ground rules that every practitioner should have in their playbook.

In searching for a useful site about public relations that contained these standard rules, I came across Rohit Bhargava’s excellent (and pertinent) “Influential Marketing Blog“. In his two most recent posts he discusses what it is both PR practitioners and journalists (the PR man’s (and woman’s) most immediate and important audience), should know about themselves and one another. I think Bhargava’s most important lesson, however, is that reputation matters. If words are our stock-in-trade, then reputation is the quality of our goods. Your word is your bond and trust matters, or people won’t be buying whatever it is you’re selling. In this industry, a tarnished reputation is rarely resurrected. On the other hand, a good reputation will not only open doors, it will take you as far as you want, in whatever you want.

I guess maybe that’s the difference between us and lawyers.


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