One of my favorite stories to tell my public relations class at Loyola University allows me to call upon my “roots” as an English literature major. “Public relations practitioners could be described as the sons and daughters of Lucifer, as he was described by Milton in the famed work, PARADISE LOST,” I’ll say, a smirk on my face, waiting to see the students’ reactions…and if they haven’t read Milton, maybe they at least know who Lucifer is.
“Was he, like, the Devil or something?”
“Yeah. The Devil…”
Anyway, I explain that Milton described Lucifer as “the reflection of God’s majesty. And that’s what we in PR do. We reflect the majesty of others.”
So, my point today is that, as a PR person, we don’t get to shine too often ourselves—we’re too busy sending out our clients’ light. Which is why it was gratifying to be contacted by Evelyn Tipacti, community editor for ProfNet Connect/PR Newswire, to participate in their popular live Twitter feed, #ConnectChat (Tuesday, Aug. 2nd, 3-4:30 p.m.)
As Ms. Tipacti notes in her Profnet “MY PAGE” blog (http://bit.ly/oqwUJV), #ConnectChat is “about our particular guest’s experience, one single person,” in this case, Yours Truly; our topic will be “going from journalism t public relations/communications.”
I know a little something about this, having started out in journalism way back in the Pleistocene era when humans in parachute pants and leg warmers roamed the earth. After an almost-literal cup of coffee at the Washington Times in 1984, I worked for a chain of suburban weeklies in Baltimore before being “seduced by the Dark Side” (that, and the prospect of a half-way decent pay check) and moved over to public relations.
One angle I intend to pursue in the discussion is that, as a journalist, particularly in today’s economy, there’s no need to abandon the news world entirely. I know PR professionals who also are freelance writers, like myself for instance. I do the PR thing, but also write theater reviews for Broadwayworld.com, human interest features for BMoreMedia.com, and other outlets ranging from The Beacon newspaper to Baltimore Magazine. The key is to avoid a conflict of interest; I never write about anything remotely health or religion related, given the nature of my full-time employer. That’s a no-no.
Beyond that, it’s actually still good PR. By maintaining my presence in the journalistic world, I’m able to strengthen my relationships with media outlets and contacts. It’s the proverbial “win-win.”
What else will I talk about? Well, you’ll have to join the Twitter chat on Aug. 2nd to find out!