Earlier this week I read about  Sgt. Michael D. Kirspel, a 23 year old from a NJ town not far from where I live, who was killed fighting for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked.

“He knew he was over there for a purpose,” said Kaceylee Sowinski , another friend of Kirspel’s who had just spoken to the fallen soldier earlier this week. “That was the whole reason he signed up with the Army — to make a difference.”

My heart went out to Sgt. Krispel’s family and friends. And I couldn’t help wondering how others who had close friends and family in the military must feel each time they read a story like this. Then my friend Justin Goldsborough reminded me of a project that he is working on at Fleishman HillardVFW ‘s Return the Favor .

The campaign is designed to collect online thank you notes and donations to “Return the Favor” to veterans and troops who have given so much to us and our country. During the month of November, the VFW Foundation will host a multimedia wall and visitors can post a thank you note by uploading a video, sharing a picture, tweeting with the hashtag #returnthefavor, posting a blog entry, or uploading a text post. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to say thank you to our veterans and troops, and proud of the important work our industry does in developing meaningful campaigns such as this.

The media can portray a fairly one dimensional look at the public industry (Be sure to check out this post from Sasha Halima on whether TV’s portrayal of PR women is detrimental to the profession’s future). Those who study and practice PR however, understand that “public relations” is not limited to publicity and promotion.  As noted in PRSA’s Business Case for Public Relations, PR is “a communications discipline that engages and informs key audiences, builds important relationships and brings vital information back into an organization for analysis and action. It has real, measurable impact on the achievement of strategic organizational goals.”

The field of public relations offers a very real and important opportunity to make a difference; to raise awareness and educate, to help communicate key messages, and to create opportunities to facilitate public discussions. The changing media landscape offers us infinite opportunities to do “social good.”  I’d urge each of you to take a moment and stop by the VFW’s VWall, for a great example of a cause campaign… and I hope while you are there you make the most of the opportunity to say thank you our active duty soldiers, veterans and their families.

3 comments on “Making a difference

  1. I love this post…I have been going through a “Why did I choose PR again?” phase lately along with the majority of my graduating class (Dec 2010). It’s great to be reminded of why we chose this field in the first place.

  2. Thanks for the comment Elizabeth :) At the risk of dating myself, I have been out of school for more than a decade, but campaigns like this continue to inspire me and renew my enthusiasm for the industry. Good luck with the rest of the semester and with the upcoming transition from student to professional!

    Best,
    Valerie

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