I always wanted to become a journalist. Not just any type of journalist, an investigative journalist. I wanted to write and use my words to affect change, to hold those in power accountable. The idea of investigative journalism excited me. Instead, I became a public relations practitioner.
Do I have regrets for not pursuing my dream of becoming an investigative journalist? No, not at all, because the reason I wanted to become a journalist was to hold those in power accountable and affect positive change. However, I realised that I didn’t need to be an investigative journalist to achieve this, because all content can affect change.
Our actions are not only affected by the stories we read in the newspapers, but also, if not more, by commercial content. Most of us can recall that funny or impactful advert more than we can recall the last story we read in a newspaper or online. Advertising and public relations messages affect our behaviour even more than the news does.
The question I asked is how do I get millions of people simultaneously to do good. The answer –you meet them where they are.
Meet them in their world of utopia, in their world that is free of corruption and crime. Then once you’ve captured their attention, you inspire them to join you on your crusade of doing good and affecting positive change. This approach is often more effective than to sit on the other side of their utopia and try and pull them out of their daze of a dream world of perfection into the dull and gloomy reality of the world.
Subconsciously, they know this world is a mess, and the problems of the world overwhelms them, and that is why they turn to their utopia because there, they are in control. Investigative journalism highlights the problem, but it doesn’t give the ordinary citizen the feeling that they are in control. With public relations, you give them the solutions on a silver platter, already thought-through with actionable steps that can be implemented immediately. This is how you get millions of people to do good, to affect change. You meet them where they are, in their utopia.
At that very young age, fresh out of school, I already knew that if I wanted to make an impact using the written word, I needed to be inside the organisations that people admire; the trendy, edgy, glamorous, and admired brands, brands that are everything that people aspire to be. Because when those brands make a statement, people sit up and listen.
I think I’m the bridge between how private companies currently connect with society and how they should be connecting with society. I am their moral compass, their conscience, the angel that whispers ‘do the right thing’. I think every company needs that –every company needs a good Public Relations Practitioner. This world is governed by the private sector and whether we like it or not, we need a flourishing private sector that invests in the community, but we can’t leave them to their own devices. If there is no one on the inside to steer them towards social good, then the world would be doomed.
All content can change the world, it just requires the same message to be tailored to each audience.