KEEPSAKE PHOTOS OF EARLIER YEARS On November 24, 2023, one of the earliest members of IPRA Philippines, Maximino “Max” Edralin Jr. (“Tito Max,” as I called him) would have turned 92 years old. He was a valued adviser who generously shared his knowledge and experiences.
A prolific writer of excellent works, he always found time to mentor and find the humor in moments. The photos that follow are those that celebrate him and other PR icons who blazed trails for us today.
AS 2023 nears its close, it is fitting that we reprise what was tackled at the annual Philippine PR industry event that was held in September, the National Public Relations Month.
Members of IPRA Philippines attended the National PR Congress, a gathering of PR professionals from various industries and sectors, organized by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. Its concluding session was on a note of joint support as attendees together pledged to uphold PR education and professionalization, and its positive impact.
Specifically, the pledge stated:
“Together, we can support the development and institutionalization of PR as a profession and a body of knowledge, by:
(1) Giving young public relations professionals the opportunity to acquire academic credentials and education in the Philippine education system to create succeeding generations of competent and ethical PR professionals;
(2) Supporting dynamic learning through continuing education and training for career development and growth; and,
(3) Building a legacy for the good of as many lives as we can touch.”
The 2023 theme, “Gnomon” (“the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow”) asked how much of a shadow (a good one, that is) we cast as PR professionals.
And, from a strategic point, just as how a gnomon is positioned in a sundial, how much of what we do helps tell the time, define the times, determine direction, and provide an energy source.
How much of what we do reassures our stakeholders and makes sense of changes that may be dizzying and puzzling, and impacts lives, both personally and professionally.
That got me thinking, and here are five thoughts to ponder in our PR journey in the year ahead.
1. Positive purpose & impact
The coming and going of leaders and colleagues through the years, strengthen these thoughts: What is it that we do, for what purpose, and for what positive change and encouragement we want to leave behind, for as many as possible, because of the PR we practiced?
“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good,” (from the Broadway musical, “Wicked”) speaks of what ultimately PR should result in, with persuasion, trust, reputation and relationship building happening over time. In today’s real-time world, our sincerity and consistency in actions that match what we say, can shape and determine the reputation and credibility of our client, institution, or advocacy.
2. Shaping the next generation
We aspire that our PR work achieves or even surpasses targets, upholds reputations, wins over stakeholders, and makes progress happen.
How many have we mentored and guided to create a new generation of leaders and professionals steeped in values, armed with competence and stamina for adversity, upheavals, nitty-gritty, and disparate ideas and personalities? How much harmony and consensus have we built, sans ego, to bring order to chaos, make sense of developments, and solve and prepare for crises? How much of a role model are we?
In heartfelt conversations with colleagues and mentees, we see the humanity that dwells in us and binds us all, regardless of rank, position, age, gender, and gravitas. At different times of our lives and careers, the ups and downs shape us, as we work hard to achieve targets, objectives and timetables, even with limited resources, and overlapping deadlines, while still needing work-life balance.
3. Realities and choices we make
I’ve been asked by communication and PR students if taking the high road and doing good is really doable in real life (as some practitioners have said, it is naive to think it is possible when realities kick in.)
I’ve been privileged to work with CEOs who, when faced with ethical dilemmas affecting operations, always took the high road. And, the company continued to be a market leader, surpassing EBITDA targets, and performing at the top, both here and abroad.
Knowing that as a PR Head gave me confidence and fulfillment to decide and achieve, because the CEO and the company’s integrity had my back and there was no dissonance (that could lead to stress and mental health issues) as we shared the same values.
To the students’ question, my reply would be that knowing what the untoward practices are, is needed to know the realities with eyes wide open, but choosing to do them is another thing that our free will should decide. I would say, if you want a change, then be the change. And that when the time comes when you are the deciding person, you sign the checks, you lead the pack, I am hoping that your courage and grit will still be there to make the decision that you now say is the right one that must be made.
4. Valued for who we truly are
In training sessions and talks for professionals and PR classes, I’ve raised the question: “Are you valued only because of your position, your network, your clout and resources that could be finite over time, or are you valued for who you truly are, as a person and as a PR professional, that could be timeless?” As one transforms from being a positioned PR to a citizen PR, what can we look back to? Again, what kind of a gnomon were we or are we? What truly matters at the end of the day and at the end of all times?
In the race to understand and be adept in technology to be ahead of the curve, there is anxiety to excel and adroitly go from tool to tool as a yardstick of effectivity and success. This has led me to believe that some things change like technology, but some things must not, like living your values and knowing your true self, and the better self into which we can develop as we get seasoned in the profession.
Again, a line goes through my head from a ballad that has a story of its own. When initially released, the song ranked low, number 97 out of 100 on the BillBoard Hot 100. It was five years later when a DJ played the song again that it was rediscovered and rereleased by Motown Records, and became a hit.
The timing was right and perhaps the audience was by then receptive to it. Its narrative is poignant. Though the lyrics may not be deemed appropriately sung by all ages (though the melody is beautiful), one line hauntingly reminds me of the need to know ourselves well and not as the lyrics woefully go: “…I’ve never been to me.”
In a social entrepreneurship class, our professor began session one by asking these questions: “What are you truly good at?” And knowing that: “What would you really, really want to do?” It gave us pause, to listen to our inner honest voice, know our roots, and from crisis moments, learn to dig deep into our adversity quotient (AQ) with calmness, fairness, compassion, and decisiveness.
5. Our cornerstone in the ecosystem
In the daily grind, there are so many simultaneous stimuli, multiple programs and tasks, and diverse opinions and motivations. So much flux in technology, artificial intelligence, big data et al. It can be exhausting so we take a step back and recharge, and look forward to another sunrise.
As the many issues such as sustainability and climate change, and acronyms such as DEI, AI and ESG arise, I propose we return to our very core as PR professionals as our cornerstone: knowing ourselves and what makes us tick and falter, making choices, working in the grind, taking the high road, continually learning with and listening to each other, and eventually leaving behind legacies of positive change and encouragement. We are, after all, living in a global ecosystem of interrelationships.
That way, those whose lives we touch because of the PR gnomon we cast, we hope, can truly say that, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of IPRA Philippines, the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association, the world’s premier association for senior communications professionals around the world. Ritzi Villarico-Ronquillo, APR, IABC Fellow is a Consultant, Coach and Speaker on Business Communication and Strategic Public Relations with 43 years of experience in leading internal and external communication and PR in corporate, communities, academe and associations.
We are devoting a special column each month to answer the reader’s questions about public relations. Please send your comments and questions to email@example.com.