Breakneck change, but keep basics at the core

Our profession is getting increasingly sophisticated, spurred on by fast-paced technology and a desire to keep up with our colleagues.

I worry about losing sight of the importance of keeping basics at the core of what we do best, or should be doing best. Using sound judgment in our counseling, having the ability to write with clarity and persuasion, being able to bring special insight to serving the public interest, and expressing it better than anyone else at the table. These are but a few of the basics we should be mastering.

Some years back, a young hotel trainee had the golden opportunity of talking with Conrad Hilton, the mastermind behind the worldwide chain.

“Mr. Hilton,” he began, “what advice can you offer young people trying to emulate your extraordinary career in the hotel business?”

Hilton reflected for a long minute, and replied, “Keep the shower curtain inside the tub.”

I wonder how much attention we pay to keeping the shower curtain inside the tub?

This is not an isolated example. A close family friend of many years became one of the nation’s most distinguished neurosurgeons. If ever a profession suggested an endowment of God-given, sophisticated skills it is neurosurgery. At least, that’s what I thought.

The doctor’s hobby is repairing and rebuilding expensive cars (he started with jalopies) and he has a drive-in basement that houses his collection. One day I watched him as he performed a delicate procedure on a carburetor.

I asked him “What drew you to this hobby?”

“What I’m doing here is not unlike neurosurgery. Discipline, precision, dexterity. It helps me when I go into the operating room.”

So brain surgery, too, has basic skills that shout for attention and fine tuning.

In future visits here I will explore this subject further because it is important to define and analyze which of the basics are most important and how they are applied at the senior professional level.

(Posted by Larry Foster)

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1 Comment

Filed under Communications / PR

One response to “Breakneck change, but keep basics at the core

  1. Ray Jordan

    I’m so glad you’ve raised this, Larry. It relates to a phenomenon I’ve thought about as: “things staying the same at a faster pace than ever before.”
    Public relations has always started with behavior, then moved through positioning to perception. When technology drives transparency to unprecedented levels, public relations still must start with behavior. It remains an obligation of our profession to make its most forceful impact there,as has always been the case.

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