The Student Becomes the Teacher

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While I was doing some spring cleaning this year, I came across an old notebook from one of my Communication courses. I saw on one of the pages I had scribbled down the 4 ‘R’s’ of Public Relations (according to my professor, Dr. Hendrickson) – Research, Writing, Relationships and Responsibilities.

My first thoughts drifted me back to a college classroom. But after a minute, I came back to reality and realized that now, with a few years of real world experience, these 4 ‘R’s’ are not just words on a paper that can help students learn basic PR. Instead, they can be used to help guide a person in almost any working environment.

Consider the first ‘R,’ Research. Whether you are going to a meeting with the President of your company about improving your brand, or are making a sales pitch to a prospective customer, be prepared! Find out why you are going to this meeting, what will be discussed and how you are expected to contribute. As you do your research, questions may come up, so make a list; don’t be afraid to ask your manager, prospect or fellow employees more about the project or opportunity you’re discussing. It will help you complete your tasks faster, and may be the start to even more research on your part.

Writing, the second ‘R,’ goes along with research. While you are researching, take down notes that you can later reference during meetings, presentations or sales calls. Once you are talking with others, continue to write out key points, or even questions you need answered. And, after all of that, even more writing may be needed to summarize a meeting, submit a discussed proposal or in general, provide more information on a topic.

The most important ‘R,’ to me, is Relationships. Greg Muzzillo, Founder of Proforma, likes to say that people buy from others whom they know, like and trust. Any phrase can be inserted instead of ‘people buy from others’; it could say ‘people are friends with others’ or ‘people work better with others.’ The point is, a strong relationship with friends, co-workers, customers, employees, etc., makes your job – and life – easier, and opens up the possibility for better communication.

Responsibilities, the final ‘R,’ means we are all responsible for doing our own work, doing it well and doing it so it benefits others. Just as a PR professional is responsible for disseminating the correct information to the public, the rest of us are responsible for getting the right information to customers looking for a new product, or a manager looking for an updated newsletter.

Dr. H probably never intended his 4 R’s of PR to be used in relation to job responsibilities. But they illustrate a great point – no matter what field you are in or what job title you hold, you need to always be prepared, be ready to build relationships and not be afraid to take on responsibilities.

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