There are 3 kinds of people. Some reminisce about the past. Some dream about the future. Some live in the present. What do all these have to do with communications?
I am a communications and branding guy, and have been doing this officially (as an adult) since the 1980s, in the worst economic recession this side of the world, and unofficially (as a kid) when I was creating magic tricks and brine shrimps for sale. I love communication for what it represents, as a means to reach out to many people effectively and persuasively, and for what it brings, allowing those of us who truly love this field, to polish and hone our skills relentlessly, often without sufficient sleep – and yet enjoying it thoroughly with a knowing smile.
There are basically 3 kinds of people we see around today. Those who live in the past, those who live in the present, and those who “live in” the future.
Those who live in the past often remember all the details of their past, whether it be glorious or sad. The trouble is, one who lives in the past, will find it hard to move forward. Those who had beautiful memories of a pampered and privileged past, may invariably shrink from the present simply because they believe their best times are gone. Those who had sad or traumatic memories may be terribly scarred and are not healed sufficiently to move forward to live in the present, which may very well be better than the terrible past. For example, let’s say Tom was the best cello player in the school orchestra during his teens, but gave up on his musical inclinations to pursue a business degree and is now an account executive in a design studio, he has altered his path in life, perhaps for rational reasons. Would Tom be happier if he accepts his portion in life now and be contented? Or would Tom be happier if he lets go of his current job and rekindle his musical talents, foregoing material comforts perhaps? It is a choice Tom has to make.
Those who dream about the future often may become idealistic, if their everyday actions do not form the foundation to build towards the future they dream about. Let’s say John is currently working as an engineer in a factory, but he really wants to be a chef. Should John continue to daydream, or should he begin to study options to work towards becoming a chef, perhaps by attending night school, or apprenticing in a small restaurant? It is also a choice John has to make in order to turn dreams about the future become a reality, rather than empty chatter.
There are those who live in and for the present. This does not mean these people have no memories or choose not to bother with their past. Many people have happy or sad experiences in life, but they adapt to them and move on. They also do not become complacent based on past achievements, making every day forward count with new or renewed effort, maintaining pace and discipline, and loving every moment forward. They do not neglect to understand what could happen in the future, but are realistic in making plans, and carrying out such plans towards the future, a day at a time.
This brings us to the field of communication. I was watching Season 3 of Mad Men, an award-winning TV series about the world of advertising. There are many parallels about my life in the past and present, and the field I specialize in. In one of the episodes, the lead character reminded us that communicating effectively with the public cannot be static and stagnant, or obsessive.
For example, when a client comes to us and insist on us, the specialists, to communicate to the public a message that we know is simply not going to fly, and may turn against the client company, we should be upfront with the client. The client is not always right, and we are the specialists. It is akin to instructing a surgeon how to operate on you, when you should relinquish all to the surgeon and trust in his expertise. Otherwise, don’t engage a surgeon. In such a scenario, the client also needs to understand that “public relations” does not mean saying meaningless words hoping to comfort the angry mob. True communication is about maintaining engagement and conversation with the public, in a rational and meaningful way. Imagine you are at a cocktail party. You can choose to chat with certain people, or you can stay silent and blissfully watching people go by while enjoying your drink. And when you choose certain people to chat with, not every subject that pops up will strike your fancy. You can switch subjects, or you can switch conversation partners. It is that simple, and it applies to communication. How?
Public relations is merely a facet of holistic communications. We do that, very well. At the same time, we as communication specialists also believe internal communication is just as important, if not more so. We help clients communicate corporate programs and ideas to their own employees, in internal human resource development (HRD) programs. We also help clients with crisis prevention and crisis recovery development programs. We also help clients look into mainstream advertising, direct marketing, social media, public and trade events, mobile apps, outdoor advertising, and any established or emerging communication means – to get the message across. Financially committed and enlightened clients recognize the need for holistic communications, and why and how it will help their brands, their public reputation, and their ROI.
We are here to help, we listen, and then, you can safely leave us to take you to the next step. After all, we have been doing this for so long, that there can be no other reason that loving what we do, and believing in what we do.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.