5 Public Relations lessons from death

I remind my students all the time that you can practice public relations in any industry. I try to think outside the box with guest speakers and the last one I had was the public relations director for a local funeral home. Yes, a funeral home. Since then, I’ve been thinking about not only her talk with the students, but various public relations lessons that can be learned from death.

Your reputation is immortal– What will people say about you? How will they remember you? What adjectives will they use to describe the type of person, boss, employee, etc., you were? Are those words accurate?

Your reputation precedes you- Actions speak louder than words. Have you Googled yourself lately? What will potential employers, and current employers, think about what they find? Or don’t find?

Be prepared- As morbid as this sounds, we prepare for our death. Think about it. We buy life insurance, write a living will, become organ donors, etc., to relieve the burden of departure on our family. Why not do the same with your job? Write constantly, learn new skills, and participate in various public relations activities to gain new experiences. You never know when the job of a lifetime may come calling.

Work with care- Just as you take precautions with your life (wearing your seat belt, driving the speed limit, etc.) you should do the same with your work. Double-check your writing, ask for help, be professional, ethical, and on your game.

Know your limits- Boundaries is not the problem, it’s not knowing where they are that gets us in trouble. Do what you can, when you can, but learn to say “no.”  It’ll be a lifesaver in the end.

I know I said 5 lessons but here is one more:

Enjoy your life– Make the most of the time you have, but do not work yourself to death.

Urkovia

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15 Comments

Filed under personal thoughts, public relations

15 responses to “5 Public Relations lessons from death

  1. I strongly agree with this post. I think that your reputation is extremely important in the work field as well as your life in general. Another lesson that is important is enjoy your life. I do not seem to have this problem but I do have several friends that forget to just take a breather and smell the roses. I believe that it is very important to work hard but also enjoy what you are doing. Do not take things too seriously.

  2. I think this a great post! I deeply believe in reputation and how it can affect the things you want to do in the future. Making a good name for yourself isn’t hard but making it bad is easy. The other point I found most important with your list was work with care. At times I move so fast I forget to stop and review what I write. (I have press delete about 20 times so far). It’s always best to review before you turn anything in, little mistakes can make a big difference. Just like the clip you showed us on the intern show on MTV. One candidate was criticized because of little mistakes.

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  4. This blog really touched me and I enjoyed reading it. It made me think about where I am in life and how much influence I can have on someone. The last sentence is something that I think everyone should live by.

    • Just like Kylie, the last sentence really hit home with me. People are constantly telling me to not work myself to death and I am glad I dug a little deeper in your blog to find this post. Aside from that, I think the “Be Prepared” is very important. I never understood the importance of preparing for job interviews until I had my last interview and realized – it wasn’t just something you became seasoned at. It was something that you MUST prepare for. And I also agree with working with care, this will ensure that all loose ends are double checked and that the organization is not at risk due to a mistake.

  5. When I read this, I immediately thought of the late Dr. Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” While facing a terminal illness, Dr. Pausch decided that it was time to give his last lecture to his students. In his lecture he talked about his life, the good, the bad, and everything in between. I often find myself turning to quotes from his lecture, whenever I am facing struggles in my own life, because if someone who was looking death directly in the face could be so positive, then I should be nothing but positive, even when problems cross my path. We must work every day to leave our own legacy and do our best to be our own personal PR team. Hopefully these quotes from Dr. Randy Pausch will explain what I am trying to say, better than I am doing right now…

    “It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

    “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

    “Be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.”

    “When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care.”

    • I think that out of the 6 lessons that you mentioned, the one that really got me thinking the most was ‘work with care.’ It got me to thinking about the last thing I posted on Facebook, the last time that I sent out a tweet, the outbox of my email, and other things on the internet that people would see lingering about long after I die. These are all good lessons but I think this one is the most important. Knowing that your reputation is immortal is a good lesson, but where does your reputation come from? It comes from your work and how you handle yourself.

      Best,
      Sherie.

  6. Death is very dark. PR tries to be very bright. Contrasting these two is interesting. You have “Be prepared for death” as a simile for being prepared for your career. While it may seem morbid, it really is just fact. The shock value of the title of this blog caught my eye and lured me to read these principles. I would be interested to hear what the funeral home PR director had to say. I have never heard of bad press at a funeral home. The most important one up there is “Your reputation precedes you”. If people know that you are a scumbag, they will go into a meeting with that predisposition and have a bias to not work well with you. Also, everything else falls under its umbrella. If you are prepared and work hard, then the reputation will fall into place, but if you worry about your reputation and are not prepared for anything, neither works out. There is a symbiotic relationship between all of these ideas.

  7. This is a very good post I agree with everything that it says. How can someone enjoy their life if they are letting it pass them by? Americans are becoming so consumed in their jobs and lives that they don’t see that time is passing by. I get caught up in school and before I know it months have gone by and the semester is over!
    I always try and think about how people view me. I want to be viewed as a good person for now and for as long as I am remembered. I know that things I say now, when I’m young, have the potential to stick with me into my adult days.
    I take pride in my work, something a lot of college students have forgotten to do, and I feel really disappointed in myself when I have to rush an assignment or when I know I didn’t give an assignment my best effort. That is something I feel everybody needs to regrasp, that your work is a reflection of you, and that if your work is sloppy it makes you look sloppy.

  8. I agree fully with this post. I think it is pretty cool that PR can be found in all careers. The way you are perceived today will haunt you 10 years from now. I think college students should take into account that pictures uploaded to Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter can ultimately hurt them in the long run. Future employers are not going to want to hire someone who has a beer in each hand in all of their profile pictures. Private profiles are not private, and students need to realize that. People grow and change, but in an interview that lasts 30 minutes will not reveal the true sense of a person. Employers are going to choose applicants that are going to portray their corporation in a positive light not someone who would be better suited for an alcohol campaign

  9. I agree fully with this post. I think it is pretty cool that PR can be found in all careers. The way you are perceived today will haunt you 10 years from now. I think college students should take into account that pictures uploaded to Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter can ultimately hurt them in the long run. Future employers are not going to want to hire someone who has a beer in each hand in all of their profile pictures. Private profiles are not private, and students need to realize that. People grow and change, but in an interview that lasts 30 minutes will not reveal the true sense of a person. Employers are going to choose applicants that are going to portray their corporation in a positive light not someone who would be better suited for an alcohol campaign.

  10. piperellice

    This is a very thought provoking post. The point about your reputation preceding you is one that I have recently seen in a particular organization that I am involved in. There was innappropriate material posted on a website in a seemingly private way, but of course the material was discovered. The people involved honestly thought no one would find out or ever see it, and they clearly don’t understand how much information can be found out via internet. Your reputation is something you must protect, for the first point like after death, but it is also something you must maintain presently. It is shocking to me that students today still don’t realize that nothing is secret on the internet!

  11. kmtokars3240

    Professor Andrews,
    I am on board with a few of the lessons, but not all. The one that I agree with the most is taking care in your work. I feel like so many people live their lives working jobs they are not working at their full potential in, and if taking that extra minute to review your work is the ticket to get you there, then I’m for it. I enjoy putting my all into the work I am passionate about (needless to say, I did not put my all into my Biology classes). If I am going to devote myself to something and it holds weight to me, then I will do everything I can to provide care to that.
    Something I didn’t agree with as much was the idea of worrying about your reputation that much. When I was younger, surely it was a worry that flooded my thoughts constantly. But now that I feel more comfortable and established with who I am, I am going to be myself in all aspects of my life and if a foul word or a mocking employee falls in there, I honestly will not stress about it.
    Overall, this was an interesting spin on how public relations really can have it’s toes in every job field. I have enjoyed the speakers you have Skyped in class, and I hope that you continue that with your classes in the future. Personal experience is hold more tangible information than I thought!
    -Kayla

  12. All of these lessons tie in together and are definitely important to know and understand, not only with our Public Relations career, but in our everyday lives, as well. My favorite lesson is “enjoy your life”. I know many people, myself included, that tend to caught up in work or other stressors of our daily lives and tend to forget about ourselves and do not have time to enjoy our own hobbies. I tend to find myself helping people out, but when I need help those people are few and in between to return the favor/help. Sometimes this can be a problem, but now I am understanding that sometimes I have to be slightly selfish, if the situation is appropriate and enjoy some of the things I like to do. I do not want to be too individualistic, but always being a team player can be a “pull” as well. Being individual and selfish comes in moderation, just like many things in life.

  13. gb1990

    I admire this scenario for numerous reasons. First of all, who you have thought of creating guidelines for the lessons in PR can turn into something memorable and humorous (PR list = death list)? I enjoy each guideline including “Enjoy your life”. At first, I thought PR was more like an interest rather than an occupation. But after reading these guidelines, it changed my opinion and I can assure you that PR is the governing body and the backbone to other occupations. This is a very remarkable blog and I recommend people who are starting to consider working in PR to read this blog.