Amy Clay, Senior Account Executive
Recently my daughter returned home after spending a weekend with her nana. She walked into the kitchen and deposited a small box on the table. “Nana says this stuff needs to live here,” she announced, leaving it for me to peruse. The box held a treasure trove of my memories, from prom pictures circa 1989 to yellowed newspaper clippings to a long-lost (and not particularly missed) plastic banana clip tailor-made for Aqua Netted, teased-to-the-sky 80s-era hair.
About halfway through, I pulled out a thin magazine with a page marked by a yellow sticky note. Opening it up, I found a photo of … myself, wearing a blue and white power suit and white patent chunky heels, seated at a very messy desk festooned with books, envelopes, scattered papers, and a huge, startlingly clunky computer terminal. It was a 1995 issue of the FPRA Magazine, the quarterly periodical issued during that era by the Florida Public Relations Association. I was holding a long-forgotten bylined article titled “Adventures of a PR Rookie,” written at the very beginning of my communications career – more than a quarter-century ago.
As I read, I had to smile at the memories the magazine brought back, and at the nostalgia it called forth. There was no mention of Twitter or Instagram or TikTok, nothing of HubSpot or SEO, nothing even of email or websites. Even the photo spoke of its era – those great big books were from the city library, hauled back to our office so I could do research that just a few years later would be done online. A cell phone was conspicuously missing, but in one corner you could make out a landline with a row of little lights along the base. An ad on the page alerted the reader to an upcoming seminar (in-person, of course) about the value of purchasing a URL and why it was worth your time to build a website (on the World Wide Web, written in big bold letters, natch) for your brand – and if you missed the seminar, its info was available for purchase on floppy disk. Floppy disk! Sigh. But in the midst of all the anachronisms, I couldn’t help but think about how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The “adventures” my much-younger self wrote of focused on the same principles our profession adheres to today: Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Do your research. Know what you want to accomplish. Develop your strategy. Prepare your messaging. Communicate openly. Advocate fearlessly. Consider your audience. Champion and foster the free, fair flow of information. Anticipate, don’t just react. And always, always have a plan.
The world in which we communicate has changed almost beyond recognition – brands and businesses can now reach audiences on an almost granular level. What was once essentially one-way communication with consumers, clients, and stakeholders has evolved into a constant dialog, making messaging, strategy, and planning more important than ever. Some things truly never change – and in this case, that’s a good thing.