In Greek mythology, Nemesis lured Narcissus to a pool where he was so absorbed with his own reflection, he lost the will to live. Is the world of PR so obsessed with itself that others lose the will to live?
At our best PR people are relentlessly positive. It’s a great attribute. Go getting, finding solutions, looking at things from different angles. And the outcomes can be fabulous – lives changed or even saved, businesses grown from one person in a damp flat to a global enterprise.
But there are also some unmitigated disasters and embarrassing failures – both unimportant and those with career ending consequences.
Social media and particularly Twitter has exacerbated PR’s positive spin on absolutely everything, almost to nausea. I saw tweets this week between two PR people: “You are the best in PR person I know” “No you are” “No you are”. Use text messages or whatsapp for goodness sake. Or get a room.
Take a scan through your PR feeds – when was the last time someone owned up to dropping a right clanger?
Failure can be a positive attribute. It’s cathartic. Teachers know this more than most: we learn from our mistakes and those of others.
More than that, those new to the profession need to know we all screw up. BUT they also need to know that what defines us is not our mistakes, and not one of us in PR is perfect, but how we respond to them.
That’s why we need organisations like the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Havens of good practice, continual development, case studies. It gives all self respecting PR professionals a safe place to be themselves, to meet others they can learn from and who recognise that even for those at the top of their game, every day is a school day. If you’re not a member already – check them out www.cipr.co.uk