“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Who knew that an opening line written in 1859 would so aptly describe the world today. We live in a time of great opportunity and astounding advances. We have the freedom to define the way we work – whether in a traditional job or as an independent. Yet, just as Dickens described, it is an age of controversies and contradictions.
We are living in a time of divisiveness, and words matter more than ever. Communication professionals are faced with a business climate in which the veracity of news is being questioned and where every word can be polarizing even when the topics are benign.
If your area of focus spares you from being in the thick of highly charged politics, you are faced with how to have your client’s voice rise above the fray and do it without appearing tone deaf to the world around you. Yet, this time in our history is also replete with opportunity. The inherent challenges can energize us to test new tactics and strengthen our communications. Independent communication professionals, untethered by the boundaries of corporate pomp and circumstance are uniquely positioned to seize the day and blaze a new path.
Call me a wide-eyed optimist, but PR pros have the chance to be the heroes pulling the culture out of the vortex of fake news, alternative facts and mudslinging. What can we do?
- We have the power to use our expertise to lead the way.
- We can show rather than tell how to find the common ground and communicate to those who may be divided in their opinions but united in other ways.
- We can demonstrate how to engage rather than infuriate or alienate.
- In our work and our personal communications, we can show the world how it’s done.
As the government, media and big brands draw blood in 140 characters, we are the cool-headed strategists who understand all sides. We manage egos, deadlines and avert multiple crises before most have had their morning coffee.
In our day-to-day job, we fact check with meticulous precision but more importantly we anticipate the impact of the facts on our audience. Our reality has taught us that truth is not always pretty but hard messages can be delivered with grace and respect.
No one knows better than a PR pro how to disagree but find a way to create a bridge that all can walk upon.
Now is your time PR pro to stand up and close the chasm between “that side” and the “other side”. You have the skills to show them how to communicate so that they are both heard AND understood.
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Image courtesy of istockphoto | choreograph