One of the many great things about studying at the graduate level in The College of Saint Rose Communications Department is the number of quality professionals you have the opportunity to learn from. Just last week, my coursework led me to Paul Fanning, retired Lieutenant Colonel for the New York Army National Guard.
I spoke with Paul because he spearheaded a number of the Guard’s key public relations initiatives for decades and, throughout his 34 year military career, he was directly involved in numerous events of state and national interest. These include the 1996 TWA Flight 800 crash and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In 2008, Paul was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, something he chronicled in a blog for the Schenectady Daily Gazette.
The path Paul took to become a public relations professional involves a confluence of his higher education, professional and military experiences. He says this path involved a lot of experimentation with equipment and communication mediums that eventually got him noticed by his military superiors, and landed him a full time communications position in the New York Army National Guard.
Paul is outspoken about the positive role public relations practitioners can play in an organization. Throughout his career with the National Guard, he has seen his work as a communications professional pay dividends in terms of creating a shared sense of purpose, pride and motivation among his fellow soldiers. This is something Paul is proud of, and a case study that should inspire current and future public relations practitioners just as it has inspired me. This is the central lesson I take away from my conversation with Paul: always preform to the best of your ability and never give up.