Continuing Education…Is It “Learning” or “Information Overload”?

A Guest Post By Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

I’ve finally come down from the “high” that I always experience after attending the PRSA International Conference. In a nutshell, the conference was four days of learning, learning, and learning along with nonstop networking opportunities.

The beautiful part was the opportunity to hear from (for me, at least) folks who are a lot smarter than I could ever hope to be. The variety of topics covered was such that I can’t imagine anyone anywhere complaining that “there was nothing interesting to attend.”

My happy dilemma each morning and afternoon as I was frantically weighing “Session A” against “Session B,” both offered at the same time, was just how to prioritize and decide which to attend.

When I got back home and my bags were finally unpacked and stowed, I took some time to reflect on what I had experienced…and learned…over the past few days.

Simply put…WOW!

I am blown away by how much new information I stuffed into my pea-sized brain. And every single thing that I’ve learned is something that I can apply directly to my “day job” of teaching public relations at Curry College.

Then the questions start.

Is everything I saw and heard really going to be of value? Or was some of it just nice to know? And…drum roll, please…is there a point where your head just gets too full and stuff starts to leak out through your ears?

As the wise poet said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or…(or…what?!?)

Public relations is an ever-evolving, constantly-changing profession. What’s new today is tomorrow’s doorstop. Which means, in turn, that we, as PR professionals, are faced with the challenge of not just keeping up with, but…if possible…staying ahead of the proverbial curve.

So, we take advantage of national conferences, local programs, trade news (PRSA produces several excellent publications – Public Relations Tactics, Public Relations Strategist, and Public Relations Journal) to help us stay abreast of the latest “tricks of the trade” so that we can, in turn, feel confident that we are providing advice and counsel based on the latest knowledge to our clients or employers.

As I’ve written before, successful public relations professionals have a “yearning for learning” that drives us to be continually seeking out this knowledge. And, as we do this, we also are fulfilling one of the tenets of ethical public relations as defined in PRSA’s “Code of Ethics,” that of “enhancing the profession.”

So there is no “information overload,” in my opinion. What there is is a burning desire on the part of those of us who are committed to excellence in our work to be just that…excellent.

Hazlett_KirkKirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. He also is Visiting Lecturer, Organizational and Professional Communication (Graduate), at Regis College in Weston, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk is a former member of PRSA’s national Board of Directors and has held leadership positions with PRSA Educators Academy and PRSA Northeast District as well as with the Boston and Hawaii PRSA chapters.