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Are You Absolutely Necessary?

Posted At: April 18, 2012 2:30 PM
by Katie Brazeal

Indispensable: not subjected to being set aside or neglected; absolutely necessary

Yesterday, I was reading an article about political commentator and writer Keith Olbermann. Olbermann recently left Current, a cable network, after a short employment, and before that he was withMSNBC hosting his own show, Countdown. This particular article was posing the question: “Who will hire Keith Olbermann now?”

Why is that?

One cable news producer said, “He’s committed the cardinal sin for talent. He’s proven he’s not indispensable.”

According to the ratings after the cancellation of Countdown, MSNBC’s viewership has not dropped but has actually grown by 7 percent. This compiled with his questionable departure from Current has landed Olbermann the top spot on one website’s most damaged brands list.

As communications professionals, what is there to be learned from the Olbermann catastrophe? And how do you prove that you are, in fact, indispensable?

Team Player
Unless you are self-employed, you don’t work for yourself. You work for a company; be a team player.

This is pretty plain and simple, but we often lose sight of it. As soon as success of any form comes knocking at the door, it can go straight to a person’s head. We see this with Olbermann and his MSNBCshow Countdown. Even with his move to a small network, he maintained his obnoxious attitude.

Being in the field of communication, one would think that working with and relating to other people might come easy . . . unfortunately not for Olbermann. So as graduates with public relations degrees, we must be very careful to do justice to our role as communicators.

Being honest in your work helps bring consistency. As the old adage says, “honesty is the best policy.” Cliché, I know, but there is still truth behind it.

While scandals and discreditable behavior might brighten the spotlight for a time, the attention will fade, and there will be consequences. Olbermann is a true testimony of this reality. Some questionable activity on his part did boost his ratings for a time in November 2011, but it is now clear that it was only temporary.

Little things
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
-Robert Brault

Even though this quote is addressing our enjoyment, the same can be said of the things we do. The little things we do in life many times hold the most weight. For we must do the little things excellently in order to be granted bigger responsibilities.

Olbermann proved he was incapable of handling the little things. Not only did he move backward fromMSNBC to a smaller network, but he could not manage the pressures and tasks of either.

A Cornell graduate with a B.S. in Communication Arts has already made a multitude of mistakes for us. Let’s learn from him and march back into our field of work with our heads held high, showing the world what an indispensable communication professional looks and acts like.


  1. Post comment

    I particularly enjoyed the “Enjoy the Little Things” part of this post. I believe, as does Brazeal, that the little things are what truly make up our lives and do collectively become the big things. Her blog made me think of the way I want to live my life, both as a college student and as a professional. I enjoy the positive tone and emphasis on team work.

  2. Post comment

    I absolutely loved reading this piece. This information is relevant to my current stance in life as I am a senior on the job hunt. All these points are valid when considering a position of employment. I take pride and comfort in the fact that public relations involves team work. It takes much skill and poise to work with a team, but it has many benefits. Honesty is an issue regarding ethics and holds much importance in the public relations world. Honest work establishes credibility and trust; two things that are needed when living in such a distrusting society. The little things are extremely crucial in this profession because a missing comma has the power to destroy our credibility.
    Something else that would make an indispensable worker is a strong drive. Working hard is something highly valued in our society. We want someone who can do the job the best.

  3. Post comment

    Katie Brazeal argued three necessary elements that are requested for PR people. First, team wok is important. PR people do not work alone. They create a team and work for company. Second, PR people have to be honest. It said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Third, Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” PR people must do the little things well in order to do bigger things successfully.
    This article reminded me the PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values, including advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. I agree that team work, honesty and doing little things well are important in order to successful work. I also think honesty is the most important element.


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