Sunday, May 01, 2005

Struggling with Material 

I believe every PR practitioner should practice a craft other than writing and communications. I believe that for the same reason MBA schools have learned their students aren't prepared when they get only academic learning.

There is a long way between theory and practice and between words and deeds. That is why I continue to struggle with carpentry. In recent weeks, I built a replacement headboard for my daughter's bed and a finger-jointed box. Neither are hard tasks for anyone who knows what he or she is doing. But, for someone who works occasionally on weekends, they were daunting. The real problem is more than a deficiency in skills. It is a problem with material itself. Wood is a living product with variations that came from growing in a particular environment. Even after wood is cut, planed and dried, it continues to move with humidity, heat and cold. To take "living material" and to craft it into an object requires knowledge that most college students don't have and never get. It is easy to write about furniture building: It is damn hard to do.

PR would have more authority as a business, if its practitioners all had more experience with businesses they represent. For example, a fashion PR practitioner would have to make a dress every year. A tech writer would have to code. A medical writer would have to work in a clinic. Not only would we understand better, we would have more credibility with clients.

This is part of the reason, by the way, that companies like McDonald's Corporation requires its CEO and other top officers to work in a restaurant one day a year. Counter duty reminds them what business is about at the bottom.

I wonder what would happen if one requirement for PRSA's APR included regular work in the field one represents.


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