S. Kearse, 32, P.H.A.
Washington, DC 20017-2957
Every time a Mason is in contact with a non-Mason, he is engaged in the two-way communication of public relations.
Few of us take the term seriously or have even reflected on or contemplated what “public relations” actually entails.
Usually we think of public relations as a department that is trying to promote the particular point of view of a specific organization; or, we view a public relations specialist as a salesman who is trying to sell us a product or a service. Of course, in the traditional sense, these notions are quite correct. However, let us examine the concept of public relations first as a new concept and, then, as a Masonic duty.
Without being overly technical or esoteric, the word public simply means the general population. Broken down further, it means those people who are outside of your particular organization, group or company. The public, collectively speaking, are non-members. It is to this sector an organization, group or company targets and sells its goods or services.
The word relations by itself simply means an interaction between two or more people. However, taken together, public relations generally means an organized effort of sales or information distribution from a “giver” to a “receiver.” For example, a press release from a police department to a newspaper regarding hiring practices is a “public relations” pitch. And this is the general notion and practice.
However, public relations should inherently suggest a dynamic interaction between “giver” and “receiver.” In other words, information flows in both directions. This is the true sense of the word relations. It is not one-dimensional or one-sided. This is the new way in which we could view the concept of public relations, whether it is at the organizational level or at the individual or personal level.
This concept is particularly useful when it applies to Masonic public behavior (the behavior of a Mason in public). Every time a Freemason comes into contact with a non-Mason (the public), he is engaging in public relations, whether he realizes it or not. Granted, it is not too often that the relation is Masonic intercourse; nonetheless, the good Mason must be ever mindful of “acting upon the Square.”
Thus, the work of the “Masonic Press” is far more than simply the act of some Grand Lodge handing out press releases (public relations) to the local newspaper about upcoming events and fundraisers. That is a one-sided, one-dimensional flow of information. That is marketing. Freemasonry should appeal to “the public” for its input and support as well as maintain our provision to the public of information about the Craft.
If you will, since it is a popular term, public relations
should be synergistic; that is, a co-active, friendly exchange of goods
and services and ideas. Thus, public relations is interactive. If practiced,
how does all this relate to King Solomon? The wisdom is this: it is always
good public relations to be mindful of the Three Great Lights because what
you “give” may be returned to you in kind. It is truly a two-way street,
and whether you have been taught the principal lesson or not, you reap
what you sow.