Guest blog written by Shawn M. Kahle, APR

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  The mantra of chubby kids everywhere ­ and for this one, it stuck!

Actions speak louder than words ­ grandpa, a man of few words, proved this one in his every action.

Hacks vs. flaks.  Spin doctors vs. publicists.  Professions vs. occupations.

Words, words, words.

2007 brought a new round of debate about the virtues ­ or lack thereof ­ for those of us who make a living as communicators on the ³other side² of the Fourth Estate.  Some are touting a ³Mad as hell and I¹m not going to take it anymore² attitude.  Others remember adages about those who live in glass houses and opt for high-road silence. Just as there are those who rebel against the labels, others don¹t seem to care.  Or do they?

More than once in my career I¹ve heard the following:

³Shawn, find the right spin for this ­ by 7 a.m.!²

³You¹re much better at the word-smithing ­ just spell my name right and make me sound smart.²

³Figure out the positioning to maximize the coverage so more people will visit us.²

³Your team can handle the tough questions, we¹re not worried about that, just make sure the facts get out there before the market opens.²

³Wow!  I sound really good and kind of funny ­ thanks!²

Never have I been insulted by any of these comments.  I¹ve not been asked to lie or misrepresent the truth.  In fact, I¹ve signed many ethics statements attesting to my integrity, veracity, and knowledge that I¹ll get canned if I lie, cheat or otherwise impugn the reputation of my employer.

I¹m sure there are people out there who might lump me in with others and conveniently label my breed as spin doctors or flaks. I really don¹t care.

Just don¹t call me ³Honey² or by colleagues ³Ladies.²

When Apple joined the PR jab-fest in one of their recent commercials with a perky-bow PR spokesperson assisting the helpless Microsoft caricature ­ I laughed!  Stereotypes exist for a reason.  If you can find a copy, read ³Chronicles of Doodah.²  Yet, some of my colleagues far and wide were outraged by the Apple ad.  Why was I chortling? Have I lost my professional Zen? I¹ve spent the better part of the holidays trying to figure that out ­ pssssst! I really wasn¹t listening to all of my families¹ stories! Finally, I have those introspective answers that give me comfort.

I work hard every day to do great work, to be a swell role model, and a helper of others.  That¹s what I like to do.  I know there are nobler professions.  My father was a policeman ­ I¹ve never really risked my life to get a great story placement.  So, as I look ahead to 2008 I¹ve resolved to spend little energy or oxygen trying to control the perceptions of others who don¹t know me or my life¹s work.

Yes, I could debate and rant.  Or, I could teach, volunteer, edit, counsel, mentor, laugh, and feel good that the phone is still ringing, my reputation is in tact, my protégés of years gone by are succeeding and making me proud, and even Alvin is making a comeback after years of Chipmunk scarcity.  Life is good.