Friday, August 30, 2013

Why PR practitioners cannot do without mentorship

Every single day, the impact of technology on our day- to- day lives is celebrated across the globe. The global village that was created from the information super highway has always provided a platform for people to engage on basically all facets of life including seeking professional counsel from the web communities. Technology, pervasive communication and the global availability of “any information everywhere” have greatly contributed to the unfortunate death of mentorship.

Nearly ten years ago, we had a culture where peers still relied upon personal face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) real-time communications. As we graduated from college to join the labour force, we met new peers and potential mentors of varying ages. These are people who provided counsel as we tried to practise what we had spent years learning in class. While many will have varying opinions, I credit 80 percent of my success to the mentorship that was provided by the various people that I encountered in my career path; the first editor who spent a whole afternoon explaining to me what it took to get a story out of ‘nothing’, my first PR agency employer who took me through the process of developing PR plans and managing multiple exercises for our various clients and my boss in a local telecommunications company who in cultivated the art of managing both the internal and external stakeholders in the organization.

Well, what I’m trying to say is that to prosper in Public Relations as a profession, one needs mentors more that the vast online resources that our generation is fond of adopting and relying on. We need mentors because they can pass on to us practical knowledge that no book or online resource might have as well as share our collective experience gained from this misunderstood profession.

The myth world over, is that it is not what you know but who you know. Today, more than ever, people recognize the value of diversity of opinion. We also recognize that a person need not have just one mentor and that mentorship needs—and mentors—may change over time; ultimately, helping to form a group of trusted advisors.  In PR, mentorship is more or less part of the larger ecosystem of networking as it offers a platform for innovation resulting from the exchange of ideas.

As we migrate from a world driven by process to one focused on innovation and problem-solving, one needs PR mentors to provide actual case studies of both success stories and failures.

Take time off your favourite PR blog, take time off slide share, drop that new PR book that you are reading and talk to your mentor.

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