The Wonderful World of Michael

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I recently came across an article from Ragan’s PR Daily entitled, Do we apologize too much? PR Professionals weigh in. It commented on one of Bill Maher’s recent Op-Eds from the New York Times in which he urges all Americans to stop apologizing. He brings up the recent trend which sees the overemphasis on political correctness.

http://prdaily.com/Main/Articles/11195.aspx

Now, I think this is a big problem. One that will not go away any time soon. With so many avenues to express ones opinion - the Internet and social media - everyone with access to a computer has become a citizen journalist. The big problem here, is that people have stopped respecting other peoples cultures, beliefs, values and most of all, opinions. It seems like with every advertisement or campaign that has “gone wrong” and received excessive media coverage, people weighing in are split on the issues. And they are free to have their own opinions, but that doesn’t mean that the other side is wrong. Recently there have been many advertisements that are meant to be a play on words and not taken seriously. The problem is that too many people take things too seriously. So yes, I feel like PR professionals and brands around the world apologize way too much. Although people offer much commentary on certain things in this world, I feel like professionals that put out content need to simply sit back and realize that they have done nothing wrong - people are most definitely going to have conflicting views on the specific content.

Public Relations is an industry filled with empathetic individuals - being one makes you a better PR professional. However, we need to realize that no matter what campaigns are pursued and what content is put out into the public realm, there “will” be people who disagree and have a problem. We need to learn to stop apologizing.

I even need to stop apologizing in my everyday life. Why is it that I find myself apologizing to people who have bumped into “me?” I apologize even when I’m not in the wrong, something I obviously need to work on. Does this make me a better PR practitioner though?

I am sitting here at school and cannot believe that my classmates and I only have a week left of class. It’s like the year has passed before our eyes.

To start, the decision to attend a post-graduate program was made based on a plan I had made years earlier. It was the natural progression. I would go to university for four years and then take a year after to specialize, and that is what I did. As soon as I read about Centennial College’s corporate communications and public relations program I knew that it was for me (plus, a recommendation from a friend didn’t hurt either). What a perfect decision it was.

This program has taught me so much; everything from writing and social media to event management and media relations. We learn pretty much every facet of the public relations industry. The program has given me so many amazing opportunities and experiences. One notable experience was from our event management class. In teams, we were to choose a charity and run an event for them, based on a zero dollar budget. We built an event from the ground up, having to contact sponsors and present our sponsor kit, produce tickets, pursue media opportunities, advertise, and most importantly, run the event. The charity my team chose was My First Wheels, a local grassroots charity that donates lightly used bicycles to children in low-income neighbourhoods. Our event, entitled A Bid For A Bike, was a live auction and was My First Wheels‘ first ever fundraising event. What ended up being a small project, we were shocked when we realized that we achieved big results. The attendance far surpassed our expectations and so did the amount of money raised. As a team, we were extremely overwhelmed by the $2700 we raised for the charity. Not only were we happy and excited about our achievements, so was Lenni Eubanks, Founder of My First Wheels, which can be seen in an e-mail addressed to the team:

Leanna, Robyn, Emily, Mike, Sasha, and Shahroz

WOW! That was incredible. You guys did such an outstanding job. I am so grateful to you all for the work you put into tonight’s event, and the real difference you have made to kids right here in our city who could use a little light and a little lift. 

I am so impressed by all of you. You are bright, talented, generous spirits. The world needs more people like you.

There aren’t enough words to express my thanks. Your contribution, your enthusiasm and your support will be forever locked in my heart and I will always be grateful to you.

Thank you. So much.

Lenni 

This achievement is something I will always be proud of. Not only did we run an event that was far more successful than we imagined, we also made a huge difference for children in Toronto. It was a total team effort and we stayed dedicated and committed until the very end.

My last significant experience brings us to the present day. Since September I have been involved in the Canadian Public Relations Society, a professional association for the public relations industry. As a member of the Student Steering Committee I help plan and run events in Toronto for students in public relations programs. The first event of the year was Passport to PR, where students had the chance to tour specific public relations agencies and communications departments around the city and network with their employees. The second event was Building Media Relationships where journalists and public relations professionals sat on a panel to answer student questions on how to build exceptional relationships with journalists and editors and how to act. Interestingly enough, many of the topics covered had already been taught to us. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the Centennial College program.

With the friends I’ve made and the things I’ve learned, I wouldn’t have asked for anything better. This was the best decision I ever could have made.