It’s the end of another semester in Kent, Ohio. There’s a blanket of fresh snow outside and a hot mug of coffee next to my laptop. Life if good.
If I did my job these past 15 weeks, students are a little wiser about the world of public relations — maybe even the world in general. Today I take the morning off to smell the roses, then begin the tedious process of grading final projects.
So, what’s the first thing I do with this respite from academe? I write this post outlining another “lesson” on public relations and how it affects our lives. I really need to get a life. But you know, PR does affect our lives, sometimes profoundly. Once in a while we should remind ourselves of that.
If you need evidence of our impact, just check the headlines. Here’s what I found scanning news of the last 36 hours.
Ohio’s Smoking Ban took effect yesterday, and public relations people played a major role. For example, the lead story in my local newspaper used information from the National Cancer Institute, the Boston University School of Public Health, the Cleveland Clinic Smoking Cessation Program, the American Lung Association, Akron General Medical Center, and the Summit County Tobacco Prevention Coalition. Most of that information was researched and presented by public relations professionals. Imagine how long it would take for a reporter to develop that story without so many sources just a mouse click away!
Also in yesterday’s news came another food crisis, this one involving green onions and Taco Bell. By now, the food service industry has the routine memorized. The folks at Taco Bell handled the crisis ably. Crisis communication has come a long way since 1982, when the public relations pros at Johnson & Johnson/Tylenol showed us all how to do it. The 25th anniversary of that crisis passed without a lot of fanfare, didn’t it?
Yesterday’s news also contained a publicity coup for that old party favorite, Silly String. It seems our forces in Iraq are using the stuff to locate tripwires attached to bombs. Run a Google search on this story and you’ll see the widespread attention it drew, and the lives it touched. Today Silly String isn’t silly at all.
In Northeast Ohio’s headlines, we learned that the remaining Tops Friendly Markets will close today, most of them to be taken over by competitors. That’s bad news for grocery shoppers in general, but worse for me, because Tops is the only local store to carry Chiavetta’s chicken marinade. There’s just no way life can go unchanged in my house without this fine blend of vinegar and spices.
The PR folks at Tops didn’t comment on today’s story, as the closings were announced a while back. But I see they’ve been busy assuring customers in New York and Pennsylvania that stores there are healthy and profitable. Meanwhile, in Ohio, our chicken just got a lot more bland.
OK, this post isn’t telling you anything you don’t know. But it’s important to remind ourselves that we can have far-reaching and not-so-far-reaching impact on people’s lives. So pat yourself on the back PR professionals. What we do matters, even if most people don’t appreciate us.