By day (during the academic year), I teach Public Relations to 100 or so bright, enthusiastic, committed students at Red River College. By night (during the academic year) and during the summer, I do freelance communications consulting. Before coming to Red River, and launching my consulting business, and having my daughter, I worked in corporate PR for more than a decade - and never once, for a minute, was bored.
I love every aspect of PR work: the diversity of people, the issues, the brain puzzles, the gratification that comes with success - even the parts that are sometimes uncomfortable and rarely but occasionally terrifying.
But I love teaching here at the college, too. On a recent drive home, I started to wonder whether it was unusual that someone who was so in love with PR as a career would so quickly fall in love with teaching.
Am I fickle? I don't think so. I worked in retail in school, and I didn't love that.
So what do teaching and PR have in common?
A lot, I think.
To me, teaching and PR both:
- require you to read your audiences, and challenge you to tailor your "pitch" to their interests and needs if you're going to be successful.
- require you to employ persuasion -- whether it's to influence public opinion or to encourage a student to recognize the value in the curriculum.
- present you with challenges and puzzles every single day.
- provide the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their perspectives.
- encourage you to take calculated risks.
- force you to become a more efficient communicator, and a comfortable public speaker.
- help you develop leadership skills.
- demand that you be credible.
- reward empathy, initiative, and extra effort.
- allow you to be a life-long learner.