I have always been perplexed by the term ‘the dark side’ and remember wondering to myself what it meant when the term was continually thrown my way after making the decision to leave journalism and pursue a career in PR.
“Oh you’ve decided to turn to ‘the dark side’ have you?” people would say like I had somehow sold my soul to the devil and there was no hope for me now, “you’ll be back…” they would continue as if I would soon realise the error of my ways.
Being an original Star Wars fan, I thought of the films that had helped shape my childhood in which ‘the dark side’ is the evil aspect of the underlying controlling power of the universe – The Force. But which character was I, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader?
I started my first few days in PR with trepidation, unsure if I had indeed sold myself out and would live to regret my decision. But in the three years I have been involved in the industry I have grown to appreciate the crucial role we as PR Professionals play in shaping discussion within the community on issues that are impacting our way of life.
Working in healthcare PR has been a dynamic and rewarding experience as much as it has been raw and exhausting. I have helped to tell the stories of patients who have run out of treatment options and who face the red tape of government without a pair of scissors. I have helped raise awareness of the vital need to further funding for research and discovery so that our children can grow up with a future free from serious disease.
PR has taught me the value of relationships and how building a better understanding between media and PR is necessary to ensure that the stories that need to be told are told with justice and purpose. We are the drivers of action in society – the instigators of change. We deal with crisis small and large, we build media savvy spokespeople and empower advocates to have a voice within the media and with government.
Rather than the evil and malevolent side of society, we act as the conduit to bringing current affairs to the forefront and encouraging informed and insightful discussion to drive action for a better tomorrow. Some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt in my time in the industry have been born out of other peoples misconceptions of what I do and the surprise to learn of the impact our work has on changing attitudes and behaviours of Australians.
PR is not that far removed from journalism and both have a role to play in the balance of news that plays out each day across the many media channels and outlets. So instead of ‘the dark side’ I like to think of PR professionals as storytellers, the momentum behind action and change in society, you may not always recognize our work but often without knowing, you appreciate the role it has to play in helping to shape our world for the better.
“And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon…”
The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
Written by Emma Pearson, Senior Account Manager – Ogilvy PR Health