On Friday, May 2, 2014 Atlantic Cape Community College honored me with its “Faculty Pioneer Award.” I was asked to make a few remarks. Those remarks follow. To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com.
Congratulations to all award recipients tonight. I am honored to be included.
When I hear the term pioneer, I immediately think of the men and women who settled in the American west – back in the 19th century. And, in spite of what some of my students believe, I was not there in the 1800s.
I also think of those in more modern times – the men and women who helped establish the communication profession: Edward Bernays, his wife Doris Fleischman – known as the father and mother of public relations – and – Pat Jackson…who helped define the Triple Bottom Line Theory.
All four stressing…
it begins with RELATIONSHIPS.
A true pioneer was the first broadcast journalist… Edward R. Murrow. We mustn’t forget Alice Paul, from nearby Mount Laurel, who led the way for women’s rights in the early 1900s…and…I would be remiss if I did not mention journalist and strategic communicator, Walter Lippmann – the father of the MAC Daddy Triad.
Where would we be today without their vision and legacy? All helped define public relations – something each and every one of us practices almost daily – even though…most times we don’t even give it a thought.
So, what IS Public Relations? Public relations is as simple as a Thank You Note. But it is much more.
It is now…Strategic Communication – including public relations, advertising, marketing, social, and other emerging media.
Strategic communication is: good work, publicly recognized. It is the group itself saying:
This is who we are;
What we think about ourselves;
What we want to do;
And, why we deserve your support.
Those four sentences should help craft your personal mission statement.
No matter how we define public relations…and deliver it, it is as Edward Bernays said…100 years ago, “Public Relations is establishing a reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group.” Again, it all begins with relationships…and relationships begin with communication.
Some other advice from those communication pioneers I pass along to my students is…read read read – because you cannot become an outstanding strategic writer without reading – novels, online news stories, magazines, even comic books.
Reading helps with your critical and strategic thinking…and as you learn to express yourself through writing – it will transfer to better oral communication. Writing is and always will be theee most important skill followed by…I repeat…critical and strategic thinking, oral communication, planning, and relationship management.
Yes, strategic communication helps contribute to your total package.
I most appreciate being recognized as a Faculty Pioneer – it is a humbling honor.
And while I do not consider myself a pioneer, I do view myself as someone who – to this day –tries to carry on…carry the torch…and emulate what those communication pioneers discovered many years ago.
It has been a great journey. One I hope is far from over. My wife Nancy and I have so much to be thankful for – from our chance meeting at our alma mater Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa…even though we were both from the Philadelphia-area, two wonderful children
and their spouses, and three terrific grandchildren. We were fortunate enough to share mentors who touched our lives and helped shape me professionally.
As many of you move toward professional careers in the next few years, I offer you the same advice my mentors and college professors gave me. Those Parsons’ professors were pioneers in their own right.
They suggested my greatest thrills would not come from awards I might win, but rather when my current and former students are recognized. How correct they were. To this day, I get emotional when I read good things about former students.
More advice from those who influenced my life: If you become a professor, do more than educate. Turn your classroom into a “laboratory for practical knowledge” and do it through edutainment. Be more than a teacher. Be a coach – because coaches teach “how to overcome adversity.” They teach hard work, stress getting up when you get knocked down, and demonstrate turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones.
The best advice this coach can offer is exactly how those early pioneers practiced their lives and professions:
They truly believed the definition of luck is “preparation meeting opportunity.” And please…never forget…as my parents taught me: “If you dream it, you can achieve it.”
Thank you so much for this Pioneers’ Award. It is very special.
To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com.