I’m a huge fan of nature and often times see things very differently by simply observing. Now, let me be clear before any of you really outdoorsy types start inviting me on a major hiking, camping or exploring adventure: I like being out in nature and enjoying the beauty…then going home to high-speed Internet, air conditioning, and running water. =) Anyway, I believe there is a tremendous amount that can be learned by watching how the world moves without us impacting it. Observe how all kinds of creatures fit into the world and how the ecosystem has a natural rhythm to it.
However, what I noticed last week had nothing to do with a natural setting. I sat at a drive through bank waiting for the teller to send me a receipt via that amazing wonder of the world known as an air tube and noticed a small bird flying above me. I watched him fly into the overhang above. His feet hopped deliberately from the broad girder to a thin piece of metal tubing running downward for several feet to reach a platform below. He remained there a moment, picked up some sort of twig, and returned in the same focused manner to the overhang above while chirping happily.
What was it about this that made it stand out and stick with me so clearly? And, how in the world does this relate to communications and PR?
This little bird has adapted to the environment around it which is by no means typical or natural for him. In the heart of downtown Minneapolis this bird has created a home surrounded by concrete and steel with a constant hum of traffic moving past it each day.
Public relations as an industry must find ways to successfully adapt to a changing world.
- PR practitioners must thing critically to understand the goals of the business. We cannot depend solely on media relations to validate our existence. The environment is changing and the barriers to traditional media are being dissolved. Anyone with a computer and a little creativity can find ways to get information to media outlets. Maintaining a list of contacts isn’t good enough.
- PR pros have an ever-increasing list of tools available to us that connect with key audiences. We should take the time to expand our own skill sets to understand how social media, geolocation applications, and customer created content on Yelp or blogs impacts our organizations/clients.
- For the good of the industry, PR must take an honest look at the traditional models of how we measure success. Does the typical client/agency model still work? I don’t know. What is the value proposition for organizations like PRSA and IABC? Access to thought-leaders is far different thanks to technology versus 10 years ago…how do we need to provide opportunities for continued learning?
I will never pretend to have all the answers but would sure enjoy hearing what others think on the issue of adaptability for our industry. Change isn’t always easy but a little birdie showed me that it is possible.