Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tightrope: Hire someone for your PR? Depends ...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Let's take a look at a situation that might be helpful in shining a light on your question. Perhaps it will also give your husband another point of view.

Several months ago a man I know named James decided that racism was still a problem after experiencing a racial problem at his workplace. To help bring harmony to his work environment, James believed that he had diversity training skills and convinced his employer to allow him to design and conduct a series of diversity workshops that would require attendance by all employees.

James stopped by to visit me to discuss his plans and to see if I could give him suggestions in laying out his workshops. I suggested that he hire an expert skilled in diversity training to help him work through the details. I also suggested that James begin his workshops by explaining to his audience exactly what he meant by diversity.

James quickly informed me that he did not need the input from "so-called" experts and that anyone with an ounce of intelligence knew what diversity was and did not need it explained. In fact, according to James, conducting and designing a workshop was simple and could be done by anyone. I unsuccessfully tried to explain that diversity meant more than racial harmony. He turned a deaf ear to my suggestions.

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping in the store where James works and ran into him. Because I hadn't heard from him since our discussion several months prior, I asked him if he had started the workshops.

With a bit of disappointment in his voice he told me that he had done three of the six workshops he designed. At the end of the third workshop his manager who was eager to develop harmony in the store stopped in to see how things were going. He asked the participants what they thought diversity was all about and how the workshops were helping them. A woman raised her hand and informed her boss that diversity meant that if you do something wrong on the sales floor you have to quickly "diverse" into doing something else in order to straighten it out.

Needless to say after three sessions the participants were clueless about the nature and meaning of diversity. James' boss relieved him of his workshop duties and hired a diversity expert and James went back to the sales floor.

As for whether or not you should do your own public relations and marketing depends on your skills in those areas. I am a believer in do-it-yourself, if you really know how to do it yourself. Take a lesson from the above story. If only James had asked himself a few simple questions he would have saved both himself and his co-workers time and energy and his employer's money. Have you ever done marketing or public relations or any kind of promotional work? Do you even understand exactly what it is and what's involved? In the event that you take the road of do-it-yourself, do you know someone in the field who can guide you? Be completely honest and true to yourself when making an evaluation of your skills. If you have the slightest question about your ability to perform effectively, then call in the experts!

Gladys Edmunds' Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. Click here for an index of her columns. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds is founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh and author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, a six-step guide to success published by Viking. Her website is You can e-mail her at

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