Ten Key Lessons Learned from 40 Years in Public Relations

By Bart J. Mindszenthy, APR, Fellow CPRS 

1. Never take yourself too seriously, because if you do, there’s probably something seriously wrong with you.
2. When it comes to strategic communications thinking and behavior, your client—in house or out—is seldom right, and you have to charmingly guide that client into changing attitude, altitude and course.
3. Over time, truth always will trump spin, conjecture, avoidance, denial, deceit, and lies. So plan accordingly and stay the course.
4. Believe and practice with passion the art and science of public relations. We can and do make a difference, despite way too many attempts to marginalize and trivialize our work.
5. Never sell your soul. Dorian Grey and Faust lost out, and so eventually will you if you betray your core values. 
6. The Golden Rule and the Scout’s motto really say it all when it comes to what we in PR seek to achieve. Remember them, and practice and preach them with rigor, vigor and conviction.
7. Don’t become hostage to your work. The price is too high: for you, and those you love and care about. I know and live the cost every day; I lost two kids I love and miss deeply because for too long during their early and impressionable years my focus was wrong.
8. Keep refortifying your mind. Read, watch, listen, debate, and expand your knowledge: there’s so much we don’t know, and there’s every reason to keep our minds agile. 
9. Learn from failure and celebrate success. Each is a motivator we can use to forge ahead and ever improve.
10. You’re more than a just a communicator. If you’re really good, you’re also a coach, counselor, comedian, confessor, and confidant. You’re a critical asset delivering guidance and direction. You’re in there as part of the team, giving all you know and value.  And being that total, professional counselor brings a satisfying high that’s difficult to duplicate in any other way. So savor it, and grow as a result of it. 

Bart J. Mindszenthy, APR, Fellow CPRS, has been practicing public relations for close to 40 years. He is author of several books and with his partner manage a PR and training practice based in Toronto. He was  the 2006 recipient of the Philip A. Novikoff Memorial Award at the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Annual Conference.