Why Communicators MUST Know More Than Communication

he's right

Last week I said I was falling out of love with PR.

This is still true.

That said, it doesn’t mean my communication skills have fallen off. Far from it. I’ve succeeded in the field because I am a curious soul. I ask questions. LOTS of questions. I read. I process, I re-read. And I ask questions again.

It’s the stumbling on random information that I get so frustrated with the state of PR, because things that should be obvious — and avoidable — pitfalls are so cavalierly stepped in.

Exhibit A:

Kent State

Someone at Urban Outfitters thought this was clever… -_-

This blood-stained shirt is — or was — on sale at Urban Outfitters. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of history should immediately recognize what’s wrong with this: Kent State was the site of one of the most infamous campus shootings in American history.

Urban Outfitters was dragged on Twitter — and rightfully so. The company issued the following apology in response to the backlash:

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

Communications professionals — marketing, public relations, social media managers, writers, hybrid positions that combine one or more of the aforementioned — MUST know about more than the tips and tricks that make up the profession. Knowledge of current events, history and social issues can be the difference between halting a bad idea before the rest of the world gets a hold of it or tucking your tail between your organization’s proverbial legs and apologizing later.

Read more than industry publications.

You’ll be a better person. Your employer will should appreciate it too.


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