Chips Off The Old Block

imagesOn Friday, I was honored and privileged to serve as the opening keynote speaker for the Central Michigan University PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) PR Boot Camp – a day of learning, engagement and discussions regarding the craft and profession of public relations.  I was asked, specifically, to give a presentation to promote the field while providing lessons learned toward a successful career roadmap.

As I put my PowerPoint together in the days leading up to the event, I found I was having a hard time narrowing down and limiting some of the incredible clients and strategic communications initiatives I’ve been involved with to share over the 40 minutes (actually 30 with 10 for Q&A) I would be given to speak. I settled on a few case studies (including a major OEM product launch, a world event turnaround and an IT company we had guided to the White House) to underscore how the industry can offer opportunities to be creative, entrepreneurial and make a difference.

Of even greater importance, however, was the wisdom I tried impart on the group from the standpoint of entering and thriving in the field – including rolling up your sleeves and working hard (no one owes you anything but a chance), seeking out mentors (proactively and organically) and believing in yourself, albeit with humility (always strive to learn, improve and contribute). Most importantly, I stressed the vital importance of setting an ethical foundation, including treating all people with mutual respect.

I was greatly impressed by how this packed room of college students listened and involved themselves in the conversation, including through insightful questions and comments. It’s not surprising, considering the outstanding program offered at the school, led by professor/counselor extraordinaire Jim Wojcik. (Note: There were also two outstanding students from Ferris State who made the drive to attend). The day allowed me a rewarding opportunity to ‘give back’ and encourage the growth and success of our industry’s next generation. And if this particular group is any indication, the future looks very bright.