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September 30, 2011
Good PR Starts With a Sense of Community
 
Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge published a book a couple of years ago on "Putting the Public Back in Public Relations," and now flooding in Vermont brings to renewed focus, at least for us, the importance of building a sense of community, of participating in your community to understand its promptings and linkages, as essential to the practice of PR. From Vermont's Addison County Independent comes an account of how the community's schools were promptly reopened after Tropical Storm Irene's flooding.

“I believe that the character of our communities in Vermont has been revealed," John Castle, a Vermont school superintendent tells the Independent. "This crisis has revealed how important community is. People have sacrificed for the good of their communities. We have pulled together.

“We are not polarized and self-interested. We acknowledged our interdependence. This adversity inspired a shared sense of accountability and reciprocity.” Don't stop here; there's a good deal more in the piece about how Vermont's communities rallied after Irene.

There are new ways these days, electronic as well as physical ones, to express and renew community bonds. But PR practitioners have, first of all, to be involved to some degree in the mechanisms and promptings of their communities, helpfully and credibly so. That's a key way of building relationships at the heart of things. 

Certainly PR practitioners should be aware of where in their trading areas community is happening, where it's strengthening or weaking.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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