Thursday, October 27, 2011

So what do you do?

I noticed a guy down the street had been home a lot lately so I struck up a conversation with him while walking the dog while he was in his yard. Yes, my neighbor confided, he was now unemployed and looking for work.

I asked the usual question: “So what do you do?” I received a simple answer: Auto parts. He was area manager for a firm that sells parts to car dealers’ service departments. These being hard times in the car biz, orders were way down and he was among those let go.

He asked me the same question and I gave him the wordy Cutlip/Center/Broom definition of PR, which furrowed his eyebrows. “So you’re a psychologist?” No, I replied, but that’s part of it. “You’re in advertising?” Well, I do some of that. He struggled on with my reply and finally hit on an answer: “Marketing! You’re in marketing!” I figured that was as good as it gets, nodded, wished him well and went on down the street with our dog.

This is not an unusual problem for our profession. The latest evidence might be the current discussion among LinkedIn’s APR group. An entertaining YouTube video of curbstone interviews, asking pedestrians to define PR, provoked the LinkedIn exchange.

Maybe I’ll just say “marketing” next time someone asks what I do. It’s no surprise the public doesn’t understand what public relations is when PR practitioners have a hard time explaining what we do.

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