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Like a message from a fortune cookie. Except inside a desk.

I was scrounging around in an empty office here at HMA, which is something I do when in need of office supplies beyond pens and notepads. Or I was pretending that it was my office with the big desk and window. Anyway, I was looking for thumb-tacks, probably to put some fabulous article we placed on my bulletin board. While sorting through some left-behind treasures (i.e. a pocket calculator and news desk contact list, thanks Beth!) I came across a bit of paper. It read:

 “Our purpose is not an occupation, title, or even a talent. Our purpose is to be. Our purpose is how we live life, not what role we live. Our purpose is found each moment as we make choices to be who we really are.”

Interesting. I added it to my bulletin board without another thought. I wanted my office to look more office-y, and an anonymous quote on life seemed to fit the bill.

 A few weeks later, while brainstorming my next brilliant story idea, my eyes settled on the quote and I really started to analyze it. “Our purpose is to be.” I like to picture a giant hookah-smoking caterpillar saying this.

I do believe in the old adage “work to live, don’t live to work.” But in this day of constant contact, social networks and one tightly webbed world, is there still a line drawn between “occupation, title” and “who we really are?”

Yes and no. I would call it a dotted line. For some, especially those in communication positions, the dots are further spaced out. Others, people with private practices or day jobs that end the second the whistle blows, have a more fluid line.

In public relations, the dotted line is all but gone. Between networking events, social media and self-branding, our purpose is to be us - even if it is our occupation.

I post things for HMA and our clients on my personal Facebook page as I see fit. The majority of my Facebook friends have nothing to do with public relations or marketing communications…heck, some have nothing to do with the professional world at all. But as a “place” where I both work and play, Facebook has lifted the barrier between my professional and not-so-professional life.

On Twitter, I am following/followed by many more public relations people than my "real life" friends. My twitter feed is streaming on HMA’s homepage. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being me. Even if I am speaking on the behalf of the client, my name still needs to be known as a reliable source of information. I am always going to be me, and right now, that me is a PR girl…I won’t use a title like account coordinator, because while my purpose won’t change, my title will.

So what do you think, can PR people separate their purpose from their occupation? What do you think your purpose is?

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. Great post, Stephanie. I didn’t even realize I’d left those few items at the office! I’m not sure where I found the quote, but it definitely spoke to me. You make a good point: it’s a blurry line between personal and professional, especially for those of us in communications.

    For me, it serves as a reminder to strike a balance – one’s job is important, but you can’t do your best work (at least I can’t) if it becomes all-consuming and your only “purpose.” It might sound a little hippy-ish (or hookah-smoking caterpillar-ish, as it were) but I think it helps keep things in perspective.

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