I was saddened by the death of Andy Rooney. The world lost a cultural media icon with his passing and for those of you who knew him and followed his work, a part of you may have been left empty too. Rooney gave the world a long and distinguished 70 year career as a war correspondent, writer, producer, and journalist but was undoubtedly best known for his 3 minute essays at the end of the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” where he constantly pointed out life’s unspoken truths or subtle lies. The quintessential “curmudgeon,” Rooney often touched our lives with his prose and opinions, got us thinking about controversial topics and frequently struck a chord by discussing taboo topics or subjects that no one wanted to talk about like why no one speaks in an elevator.
In his last segment on 60 Minutes, Rooney said, “After the War (World War II) I went to work in radio and television because I didn’t think anyone was paying enough attention to the written word.” He went on to add, “…a writer’s job is to tell the truth. I believe that if all the truth were known about everything in the world, it would be a better place to live.” Rooney was a man who didn’t mince words and it was clearly evident that he was passionate about his work, genuinely reflected in his ability to tell a story and bring attention to issues, events, situations, people or places in the world around us. I suppose it’s an injustice to only dedicate one blog post to a man with such an innate ability to tell a story that reached so many people’s lives with such passion as Rooney did, so I’ll settle for pointing out one aspect of his life that we as PR and Social Media pros can learn from and use to help us become more skilled at what we do.
PR and Social Media requires an aptitude for securing attention and establishing relevance. There are many tried and tested methods for reaching the finish line but perhaps the most impactful of these is the ability to tell a story. Truthfully.
For all of the pomp and circumstance that flashes before us in the digital world, the most effective PR and Social Media pros whittle down the noise and create content that resonates and touches our emotions. Whether we walk away happy, sad, angry, surprised, excited, or curious, our job is a success if we have elevated blasé into a motivation to act or respond. It is our job to accomplish this and our success is largely determined upon the passion inside of us for what we do and who we represent.
Andy Rooney had this passion. He went about his work with little concern about how others perceived him. He cast away others’ evaluations and judgments of his work and instead directed his focus on capturing the essence of any issue. Despite his rather prickly demeanor, deep down you could sense that this was a man who cared about the world and had a fire burning inside him that simply grew larger with each issue he covered. When I think about his life and work ethic and the passion he emulated through his work, I am inspired to keep the fire burning inside me so I never lose the passion and desire to effectively mold my message and stick to the facts. In a world where PR is often perceived as a lot of smoke and mirrors and shallow personalities, it’s my responsibility to cultivate the passion inside me into a message that is honest and truthful surrounded by strong ethics and a desire to incite people to think and act.
How did the life of Andy Rooney touch you?