Confession: when I first came to UNC I was dead set on pursuing business and getting into Kenan-Flagler Business School. In my freshman year mind, this was the ONLY way I was going to be happy and successful at UNC.
Move-in day freshman year with my roommate Sam Hayden. HOJO 10th floor forever.
Reality: First semester of my freshman year, ECON 101 (a business pre-requisite class) completely wrecked me. I struggled the entire semester to master the concepts of the class and spent many nights frustrated and in tears over my grades in that course. Fast forward to second semester as I attempted to master another pre-requisite class, BUSI 101. Cue more tears and disappointing grades.
Almost a year later I had to face the facts…midway through my BUSI 101 course, I marched to academic advising, dropped the class and changed my major to media and journalism. Just like that, I let that dream of the business school die, and it felt so good. I wasn’t sure what adventures the j-school held for me, but I was ready to jump in.
One semester into my new major, I knew I had made the right choice. I not only enjoyed going to class now, but I had the opportunity to work with real clients, instead of only learning theories and memorizing strategies. I quickly realized that I excelled at working on practical projects and navigating group work. However, in many of my intro classes I struggled with my decision to pursue public relations – was it really just spin and strategy to sell more products? Did it deserve the bad rap it so often gets? Was I going to spend the rest of my career lying to people?!?!
After asking a couple of professors for clarity and getting deeper into my major, I was greatly relieved to understand that the strategic communications arena was NOT all about being slick. I did learn that it was about telling stories – but the kind of stories that allowed clients to communicate with their stakeholders, employees and customers. It’s all about crafting a message that resonates with people – whether it be about insurance, soap or political activism. It’s about understanding the human behind the company and learning about the people the product or service is going to impact. (PS- If you need more clarity about what exactly PR is and the evolving industries around it, this is a great piece from Forbes.)
Am I total sucker for the ads and campaigns that make me cry? Absolutely.
But this is because someone did their job right – they did their research and made their message human. They successfully created a story that pulled at my heartstrings, because on some level it was relatable and powerful. Crafting a story that speaks to people and drives a reaction from them truly is magical. I believe if a message can evoke emotion of some kind, then it has touched the core of humanity.
Throughout the semester I’ll be highlighting some of the campaigns that sparked my passion for strategic communications and sharing some content that will (hopefully) also move you.
In light of my focus on humanity in the midst of technology, check out this short spot by Nike. Simple, yet convicting. Time is precious, thanks for spending a little bit of it with me!