A Message from the PRSA Chair on the Events of January 6, 2021
Jan. 7, 2021
As communications professionals, we take pride in our ability to know what to say, and when and how to say it. But my head and heart are hurting today and I’m searching to find the right words as I try to make sense of the unfathomable chaos that took place yesterday, and the precarious place we find ourselves in as a country.
Never did I imagine my second communication to our membership would come in response to an assault on our republic and an attempt to delegitimize the election of the President and Vice President of the United States.
No matter what one’s political leanings are, we must all, as PRSA members and as citizens of this great country, join together to help restore faith in our democracy, and continue to model the importance of behaving civilly, peacefully and ethically. The world is watching, and our employers, clients and associates are relying on our guidance and example.
We are all in a unique position, one that is more important than ever, to demonstrate leadership and serve as steady voices at a time of great imbalance. Timely, accurate and truthful information - in context - is the foundation of our role as communicators. Yesterday’s actions show what can happen when the channels of communication are compromised with mis/disinformation.
And we must thank and support our counterparts in the media who so bravely reported from inside and outside the United States Capitol, risking their own safety to help tell the story as the day’s events unfolded.
It is also crucial for us to consider our PRSSA students, how strange and scary this must be for all of them, but also how eager they are to get involved and find solutions to problems. We must resolve to serve as strong advisors and mentors, and help guide them as they search for their own ways, and use their own voices, to help make a difference in society.
Yesterday, long-intensifying frustrations and helplessness reached an ugly boiling point. We must all take a long hard look at how to create and sustain the pillars of community and fellowship that are at the core of our democracy.
We all know that mob mentality is never the right answer and is dangerous, destructive, and, tragically, sometimes deadly. Yesterday’s horror must not be repeated, and I know that we can all come together in our collective determination to make things better.
Michelle Olson, APR
PRSA 2021 Chair