Several years ago, moments before stepping out in front of a classroom full of students, I racked my brains for analogies that could explain, in very simple terms, the profession of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. That’s when the image of a Crow’s Nest came to mind.
Crow’s Nest: The inspiration for Torchia’s blog.
We’ve all likely seen the image of a lanky, dishevelled teenager being forced up the mast of a ship to find his position atop the Crow’s Nest. The precarious lookout station is perfectly built for scanning: Looking for opportunities (treasure island) or threats (enemy ship or iceberg, for example). That’s, in many ways, what Public Relations professionals do for a living. Here are three striking similarities:
#1. Scanning: We scan for opportunities and threats that emanate from every single ‘public’ of importance to our clients – be it media, staff, investors, neighbours, advocates or governments – whether they’re actively engaged in company affairs or not.
#2 Weathering the Elements: Usually speaking, when storms rage upon an organization, it’s usually PR people who bear a good portion of the brunt – whether it’s late nights, public scrutiny or heat from peers/staff. That’s not too different from the life of the resident of the Crow’s Nest who must deal with extremes in weather.
#3. Oftentimes on the outside / Limited Resources: While many PR professionals are thrown up in the Crow’s Nest to face the harsh elements, many C-Suite executives (not all!) spend a little too much time cooped-up in the calm and cool captain’s quarters. PR people very rarely get invited to ‘set up shop’ in the Captain’s Quarters…but then again, we shouldn’t! It’s way more important to be out there, speaking and interacting with (and listening to) publics of interest or importance to the firm/ship.
I only wish we’d succeed at getting a little more money to spruce up the nest a little bit! Of course, this analogy doesn’t take into consideration the important realm of ethics in our profession. Stay tuned for more on that…