Coming Up PR

Pay It Forward

Originally posted on JustAnotherPRGirl on March 30, 2010

The inspiration for this blogpost title comes from the 2000 movie that bears the same name… The premise of the film is built around a boy who believes that if you do a favor for someone, or support a cause or simply just help a person or an animal, you create a system of goodwill which will eventually provide returns forward payer.  As part of a school assignment to make the world a better place the young main character develops a scheme he calls “Paying it forward,” meaning the recipient of a favor does a favor for a third party rather than paying the favor back.  Actually, I think the specific rule is that one must pass along three acts of kindness/favours to three new people… and eventually everyone in the world will eventually benefit from a favour (or something like that… full disclosure: have not watched the whole movie in a long time or in its entirety), and the favour gets returned to initial sender.

The point is, I feel like concept of “paying it forward” is relevant when breaking into any new industry.  Especially those like public relations where most opportunities develop out of networking capabilities and contacts.  For those of us trying to get into the field, we rely heavily on the willingness of those who came before us to help guide the way (or, “Pay It Forward” as it were).

I’ve been lucky enough to be the recipient of some good advice along the way.  Most recently Justin Kozuch and Corey Reid, two very smart social media saavy guys, who came to speak at the “Rock the Talk: How to Use Social Media Effectively” event myself and my team mates Carmela Antolino, Cheryl Brean, Michelle Gradini, and Mike Kerr held on March 25, 2010. (Check out the images on Flickr). They were enthusiastic, approachable, and genuinely engaged with the class.  Hopefully our fellow students started to make some connections and maybe even picked up a thing or two…

Other experiences, however, have not been so positive.  On Episode 4 of Coming Up PR we read some comments about what people think about joining organizations like the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), and we did get some feedback that at least one listener feels it’s giving her opportunities to network and find career opportunities.  Alternatively, I know that some students have encountered some difficulties dealing with CPRS members, for example a school research project about accreditation (i.e., investigating whether or not CPRS members support mandatory APR) was asked to be discontinued (in a way that didn’t really provide an option).  While the CPRS member(s) may have had very legitmate reasons to ask that the study be stopped, I think it was the tone in which the students were demanded to halt their study that was the most unsettling.  Since we are communicators, we should be aware of the kind of message were are sending at all times.

My hope is that that a situation like that is rare and the majority of CPRS members and programs are designed to encourage fresh, eager minds who are determined to develop their future careers and the reputation of public relations on the whole.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting CPRS Toronto President, Martin Waxman, who has been incredibly supportive of the Coming Up PR podcast.  He has been the epitomy of the “Pay It Forward” model, and my goal entering the field is to remember to do the same for the next generation of ambitious students one day.

So hopefully as the latest batch of public relations students start to look for work, they’ll meet good examples of established practitioners kindly encouraging them to pursue higher standards and elevate the profession.  Who knows who the leaders of the practice will be tomorrow? One can only hope that if they’re helped along the way to the top they will return the favour one day.



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  1. Let’s hope the leaders of tomorrow will include those who espouse the view you are writing about. Paying it forward. I like it also.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  2. * Christina Co says:

    Great read. Having attended two CPRS networking events during the course of the year, I definitely agree with paying it forward. Also, having industry professionals come in and talk to the class has definitely shown me that paying it forward does actually exist 😉

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 2 months ago

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