Helen Ostrowski, Chairman of Porter Novelli, was honored this week by PR leaders in Chicago for her brilliant career at the agency. In her remarks, she expressed the importance of giving back to others in the profession. I asked Helen to expand on her thoughts for readers of this blog.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to work with people who gave generously of their time to help me provide guidance and teach me about public relations. this on-the-job mentoring, which came from many sources, was invaluable to me, because it was bred of real life experiences that helped me develop in a way that no course of study could on its own, and it predisposed me to a habit of trying to learn from everyone I encountered. To this day, I still remember the powerful lessons I learned from everyone who gave of their time throughout my career, whether in small doses or long-term mentorships. I always considered this generosity a gift that I could reciprocate by giving back to others in our profession.
Giving back needn’t wait. The learnings that others provide us–whether senior people in our industry with years of experience, or the colleague next door who has a neat skill set to share–help us hone the practice of public relations and expand our personal horizons and skills. As we ourselves acquire knowledge, wisdom or new skills from others throughout our careers, so, too, can we contribute to the career development of others, and thus help advance our profession–a responsibility each of us shares.
Consider this the net time someone asks you for help on a project, to participate in a team project not quite in your job description or to provide guidance to a new colleague. Before you reply, think of all the people who helped you when you started a new job, or took on a seemingly daunting project–and how much their experience and advice mattered to you. And then say yes! Not only are you helping a colleague and advancing our profession, but you’ll also likely find it one of the most rewarding things you can do. And in giving back, you’ll spur some new professional to consider doing just the same thing.