Blog written by Shawn M. Kahle, APR

Public relations is a profession of words and actions.  Without words, our efforts to inform, persuade, or engage ring hollow.  Unfortunately, there’s a tendency to rely on words as an elixir for all that ails us. 

Words.  We speak them, text them, write them, edit them, position them.  And we worry when we don’t hear the right words, or they don’t come quickly, nor exactly how we expect them to be said or written.

Our word-craving addictions sometimes get the best of us as individuals and as a profession.  We throw words at words.  We seek out advocacy strategies rather than action plans.

I love words and respect their necessity, wit, and power. 

Yet, it is hard to refute the maxim, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Time and time again my respect first goes to colleagues and acquaintances who act with purpose and compassion.  Like Missouri, “Show Me.”

Recently, there’s been much talk about what can be done to improve the reputation, understanding, and perceptions of the public relations profession.  Has there been enough action?  What can we do?

1)    Do you know a wonderful cause with limited donor support because too few are aware of the need?  Volunteer your time actively every week.

2)    Is a friend starting a business but cannot get the local paper to share the news?  Work as a pro-bono advisor to build an action plan for communication, one that draws customers and attracts interest.

3)    Are you tired of politicians who embarrass or disappoint?  Find a candidate who gives you hope, role up your sleeves and do the work to get elected – knock on doors, stuff envelops, work the phones, put some skin in the game.

4)    Elevate your professional skills by pursuing your accreditation in IABC or PRSA.  Why?  You will reflect, you will learn, and there’s a very good chance that you will gain an appreciation of the history and actions of the true pioneers who set the foundation for our contemporary words and actions.

5)    Mentor a student at a local high school or college who wants to enter the profession.  Pay the way for your student to attend a monthly luncheon or program of your local PRSA or IABC chapter.  Review resumes, pass along job leads, coach on interviewing skills.  Be the one who your student calls or emails for advice and support.

         6)    Recognize the actions of others – in your firm, at your local meetings – who are moving the profession forward through their                      personal community engagement or leadership. 

What do you suggest?  What are you going to do?

Show me.  Let’s grow the list.  Let’s create a true action plan.  Let’s talk less about what others say, and instead do what needs to be done.

That’s what’s best for the public relations profession.