A Perspective on Public Relations and Leadership During a Tech Conference

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Photo credit: Edward M. Bury, APR.

The opportunity to keep learning is one of the benefits of working for a major university. That’s why I was excited to participate in an IT-centered conference yesterday at the great institution of higher learning where I am employed: The day-long event provided breakout sessions that focused on available tech tools and project management resources, along with presentations on shall we say “softer” subjects.

One session that stood out for me was titled: “Leadership Through Collaboration, Communication and Cooperation.”

I and those in the room gained insight into the nature of what makes a good leader today and learned there are four genres:

  • Transformative
  • Democratic
  • Laissez Faire
  • Autocratic

(For the record, my perceptions on leadership were more on the cut and dry side: Those who were effective and forthright, and those who were worthless and duplicitous.)

The session leader, a former Navy officer who earned a doctorate after leaving the service, was engaging and shared other perceptions on leadership, including this one: Good leaders know how to balance hard and soft skills.

I wholeheartedly agree.

But what captured my attention came during an analysis of the “communications” segment of the talk.  Our leader said, and I paraphrase somewhat: “Clear communication is the key to establishing and maintaining relationships.”

Sound familiar?

Perhaps some echoes from this definition of public relations presented in 2012 by the Public Relations Society of America?

I think so.  What I take away from this portion of the 45-minute presentation is that the very essence of modern public relations — effective communications — also should be among the foundation of good leadership characteristics.

Hopefully, leaders across all spectrums of society today will agree with me and adhere.


The Plan B I Hope Never Gets Implemented

Like any true practitioner of public relations, I am conducting my job search according to a plan built upon objectives, strategies and tactics that lead to a goal: A full-time position with a progressive organization where I can grow professionally and contribute to the company’s goals. And, I’d like to get paid for what I do, too.

As a result, I’ve set aside parts of my week networking online, meeting with colleagues/friends for coffee, volunteering, researching companies I’d like to work for, and — yes — applying for positions posted on the growing number of online job sites. (I had no idea there were so many other there, and wonder just how they all can make money.) I also take advice from anyone who will give it.

My business is public relations and my experience falls into the association management industry and real estate arena. Seemingly, the opportunities are boundless as there are a lot of associations/non-profits in Chicago and a lot of real estate companies.

But there may come a time when I’ll need to cross that line in the sand, when I’ll have to search in fields outside of public relations or marketing or writing. Where will this Plan B lead me? Here are some options I might have to consider:

1. Wal-Mart Greeter. Public relations really is all about communication, and what better venue than the front door of a mega-retail outlet. The company has a great brand and is expanding.

2. Fast food drive through rep. You’re the first line of communication to customers who can’t/don’t want to get our of their cars. It’s fast-paced and exciting. And, you get to wear a nifty headset.

3. Bartender. A good bartender is a problem-solver, pseudo psychiatrist and front-line representative of the establishment. They communicate constantly, often with deafening music/noise in the background.

Seriously, and with no disrespect to the people who perform the jobs above and others, I remain very confident “the right” job will come my way. I always will consider myself a public relations professional, even if I am compelled to move to another industry.

Must go now and continue on making Plan A a reality.