“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill
I’ve written about being a public relations mentor in the past, but it’s been a while. Mentoring is something I’m passionate about so I’d like to challenge each and every communications person (PR, advertising, marketing, etc.) reading this to do ONE thing in the New Year that supports our next generation of pros.
Before you start with the “I’m too busy” excuses, let me clarify what I mean. Looking at Wikipedia, “mentorship” refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. It goes on to describe “mentoring” as a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive. I’m partial to John C. Crosby’s definition, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” What this means to me is that you do not have to be part of a formal mentorship program to accomplish this!
Formally, I am a Champions for PRSSA PRSA section member, a PRSSA mentor through my local PRSA chapter’s program, as well as professional advisor to my alma mater’s PRSSA chapter. However, informally, I help scads of students and young pros via social media (mainly Twitter and LinkedIn). Mother Teresa said, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person”—sounds like pretty good marching orders to me!
I know some believe there are specific core competencies required for being a mentor, such as coaching, counseling, teaching, acting as role model, championing career development. While these are valid elements of mentoring, I propose that you don’t have to be or do it all to help shape the future of our profession. The effort you put forth can be something as easy as answering a quick question, reviewing a résumé or advising on portfolio pieces. And, frequently I find that it’s a two-way street. You might just learn something yourself.
Does your PRSA chapter have a mentoring program? Why did you become a mentor? Did you have a mentor yourself? What did you learn from them?