A piece of advice from Steve Harris, former head of global communications at General Motors, in The Public Relations Strategist:
What do you expect from the next generation of PR professionals?
The only thing they’re going to have to learn is to really listen — to understand exactly what the objective is before they start acting. They’re action-oriented; they’re ready to roll on a moment’s notice. I try to slow them down and say, “Make sure that you understand before you go.” Even in this day of 24-hour news cycles. Before you start talking, you better understand what it is you’re talking about and what the issue is.
We agree. In a time where communication can happen so quickly, and crises are lived by the second and not the day, many PR professionals do become reactive. In reacting, your heart rate is increased, your adrenaline is pumping and your thoughts may not be as clear and as calculated as they could be. Often for crisis tasks, you want to respond swiftly, but with strategy and process. To listen means to take a step back — don’t assume and don’t react emotionally. Rather take the time to consider the situation, its implications, and the most efficient and effective path forward.
Preparation, even on short notice, can improve the quality of PR communication immensely.