Public relations, running and the new year

Well, it’s New Year’s Day. And I’ve already completed my first run of 2008 – five miles in a 30 mph wind. Hope that running into the wind is not a sign of things to come for those of us in public relations and public relations education this year. But stick with me for a minute or so. I have another point I want to make about public relations as we start the new year.

I know it may seem strange that I run at 5:30 a.m. on a holiday. But I’ve been doing it now for 20 years or more. And fortunately, my wife, Mary, is understanding and forgiving of this minor (major?) flaw in my behavior.

We’ve been married for almost 34 years. I’ve been running mostly in the very early mornings for 25 years. I guess she figures it’s too late for me for any meaningful therapy.finishline.jpg

She has also been a good sport about all of this. Since I get up most days, weekends included, at 4 a.m., we rarely go anywhere that keeps me up past 10 p.m. And the worst thing that can happen is that you invite people to dinner, knowing they may want to linger until, uh, 10:30 or later. Mary on the other hand has some really well-adjusted friends who like to go to events, parties, plays like normal people. Thankfully I finally learned how to work the remote control for our TV. And our dog appears to enjoy my company.

I’m not anti-social, far from it. Consider almost any New Year’s Day from years past. My friends who I met through running – Walter, Jerry, Matt, Joe, Ziggy, Carol and a host of others – would meet very early at Walter’s place in Barberton. We’d run four or five miles – even in the days before global warming. Then we would toast the new year with orange juice and Champagne. None of us were ever awake at midnight for this ritual.

We don’t do that any more. Many have moved from the area. Some prefer to run now – or more likely bike — when the sun is actually shining. Some have reached the age – as I guess we all will – when running just isn’t all that much fun any more, or it’s too hard physically to get out there most days. Men’s senior tennis anyone? As you get older, the road gets both longer and shorter. (I included that last line primarily for the poets who read this blog. I’m trying in my writing to be more lyrical.)

So, guys, thanks for so many great runs, conversations and memories. I thought about all of you a lot as I was out there this morning. And I’m going to talk in this blog throughout the year about some of our runs – and share with others some of my memories about the friendships I’ve been fortunate enough to make on the run.

And maybe there is a public relations lesson here as well. PR is about relationships – in the long run. As a group of runners, we really didn’t have a lot in common, particularly in the early days. We were of different ages and backgrounds. We had vastly different jobs, views on politics and social issues, sports and just about anything else you could name. But we talked as we ran – and we had great conversations. We didn’t always agree. But over the years we developed solid relationships based on trust, honesty, fairness and empathy – and civility.

Too bad as public relations pros we can’t replicate that with employees, customers, shareholders, students, reporters, etc. I’ll bet if we could, our employers and clients would benefit and public relations as a profession would be held in much higher regard.

I agree that social media, Web 2.0 and all the new technologies are great tactical advances. But I’m not sure that the new technology will help us create the relationships that we need with people inside and outside our organizations. It may, in fact, do just the opposite. Does anyone actually pick up the phone and talk to a reporter these days? Do CEOs and college presidents still meet and talk face-to-face with employees, faculty and students? I hope so. But it’s hard to tell. I don’t see many in the blogosphere talking about those kind of things these days. Maybe over time I’ll be able here in some very small way to help spark an ongoing conversation about the role of what I’ll call traditional face-to-face tactics in public relations versus the new tactics related to social media and Web 2.0. We’ll see.

Oh, and Mary. You know I don’t make resolutions. I have enough trouble remembering what you have asked me to get at the store. But I’m determined to be more flexible with my schedule this year.

Would 10:15 p.m. as a curfew be OK?

Also, Mary seems to be warming up to this new activity of mine, blogging. Just yesterday I was in my office at home searching for some obscure Web site. She yelled enthusiastically: “C’mon. We have to go. What the hell are you doing up there.”

So it goes.

Photo of me completing the Columbus Marathon in October 1985. 

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5 responses to “Public relations, running and the new year

  1. I admire anybody who can get up that early. And anybody who can run at any hour gets my praise. Man, I hate running. In my few lame attempts, I tried to get to that runner’s “high” but I never rose from the painfully low. As far as administrators, etc. “relating”–YSU has some real problems with that, enormous tensions with faculty/staff and the prez and his circle. Just read this morning, in fact, that he returned home from Cleveland where he was visiting friends to discover his home was riddled with bullets. His street is one of the safest in our area and not even “officially” in Youngstown (about a half mile into the next township). Very disturbing news.

  2. Kelly, that is terrifying. Do they know who did it? Why would someone want to riddle his house with bullets?

    And Dad, I’m proud of you for adjusting your schedule for 2008 a little bit. But you should know that we know all of the tricks now. And just because you set your bedroom clock forward 45 minutes to make 3:30am look like 4:15am, you won’t get credit for “sleeping in” 🙂

  3. jess, the history of his relationship with some pretty extreme staff is involved. and i’m not saying i have any clue who might have done this. but there’s a very strong us vs. them sentiment in this town. us=white collar, nepotistic types, them=blue collar, angry types. i’ll be curious to see what happens. they live right across the street and a few doors down from betty and will, by the way. okay, poor mr. jewell’s blog is becoming a chatline for kelly and jess!

  4. Kelly,

    Other than the info you have provided, I haven’t read or heard anything about the situation in Youngstown. Please keep us posted. Ever the optimist, I’d love to continue thinking that we could resolve differences with words rather than bullets. That’s the poet in me.

    And please keep reading this blog and posting comments. Jessica, you too. As I mentioned, writers are always welcome here.

    Rob

  5. Rob,

    Just had a chance to check out your blog, and I enjoyed reading your posts. Think we may have another crazed blogger on the PR faculty. Anyone who can run in the cold, winter weather at 5 a.m. obviously has the discipline to write a blog. Good luck in this new adventure.

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