What PR Can Learn From Steve

While reading Richard Edelman’s Blog, 6 a.m., I came across a post he wrote in memory of two Chicago businessman, Bob Galvin and Art Nielsen. He remembered Galvin and Nielsen, the CEOs of Motorola and A.C. Nielsen, as sharing common character traits which led to their eventual successes as individuals.

I read through the list of attributes that Edelman believed led to these men becoming great leaders and I thought they sounded familiar. It was because these same characteristics were mentioned in the multiple tributes I had read earlier in the week about the passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Edelman described Galvin and Nielsen as global thinkers, entrepreneurs, competitors and family men who had an unabashed love for technology and community.  Sound familiar?

This past week, many of us read through those articles about Jobs and noticed many of these same features. Newsweek called him “one of the most influential cultural figures of our time,” and TIME Magazine said that he “reinvented entire industries.” Aside from national news magazines and major media outlets, Jobs’ passing and his life accomplishments were covered by numerous blogs, including those about marketing and public relations.

The PR Newswire Blog, Beyond PR, celebrated the life of Jobs with a post titled, “If Steve Jobs had been a PR Guy.” The post discussed what would have happened if Jobs had gone into public relations. Obviously, Jobs would have been perfect at coordinating all technological intricacies of the field. But Jobs would have been more than just a social media god; according to the article, he would have been “excruciatingly deliberate in the communications he crafted.”

If Jobs had spent some time in the public relations world, he could have taught current practitioners much about their field. The blog noted seven lessons that Jobs could teach us:

  • Make it easy for your customer to succeed
  • Cultivate enthusiasm
  • Defy convention relentlessly, and to thine own self be true
  • Don’t do what you don’t believe in
  • If you don’t like what you’re doing, change it
  • Don’t be afraid. Things will work out.

Nowhere in this list does it say that Steve Jobs would have taught us how to build a better blog or write a better press release or update our Facebook statuses better. Nowhere did it talk about him trying to teach us to build our own personal brands. It’s not that these things aren’t important, but I think as practitioners, we focus too much on the trends and not enough on our foundations.

Things like social media prowess and personal branding are only successful if the practitioner practices things like focusing on client satisfaction and cultivating enthusiasm for our profession. No matter what profession Steve Jobs had chosen, he probably would have excelled. His genius in technology may have led to his chosen career path, but it was his character that made him the person professionals try to emulate.

Do you think PR professionals could learn something from Jobs’ legacy? Is his personal business model something that can be learned or is it too hard to take his ideas and apply them outside of Apple?

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2 Responses to What PR Can Learn From Steve

  1. estrapko says:

    I totally agree with you. Too much time is being spent on focusing on how to improve our social media strategy, writing a better blog or building our personal brand. But none of this will help us if we don’t have the passion for what we do. I think being passionate about the brand/field/corporation is essential for PR professionals. Clients can find out very soon that they are being “cheated” by a PR person who doesn’t really believe in the brand. On the other hand, I know a few people who made a minor brand successful just by being passionate about it.

  2. dlkline says:

    While this post leaves much to speculation and “what ifs,” it is most likely that Steve Jobs would have been innovative in whatever field he decided to undertake. There are a few “special” human beings that come around ever so often that defy almost super-human ability. That being said, I agree that Jobs had some very basic life and business lessons to pass on to us. The one lesson that stands out to me is passion which most definitely can and should be transferred to the public relations realm.

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