A Word of Advice…

When Brittany asked me to write a blog post and offer “a word of advice” for PRSA Hoosier Chapter members, I said “sure!”

Then, a couple of weeks later, Brittany sent me a little reminder note, “Remember when I asked…”

I had just violated my number one piece of advice.

It’s easy to say, harder to do.

Plan it! WRITE IT DOWN! You know, the number two step in the four-step PR Process.

Yesterday, my Facebook account popped up with one of those “memories” things. “Two year’s ago today, do you remember, Fred”?

Well, yes. In April of 2014 I retired. After nearly 40 years in the business, 35 at St. Francis Hospital – I retired!


See, I had this plan. Back when I was in my 30’s, I tried guest lecturing to a college class, and found out I liked it. I thought it might be a good second career.

Back then, I decided I didn’t want to go back to school for a Ph.D. or Ed.D. I did like teaching though, and so I committed to being an adjunct. While I pursued my career in PR and Marketing, went back to school a couple of times, actively participated in PRSA and community activities – taught. I taught one or maybe two classes a year: Butler, Indiana State, IU, UIndy, IUPUI. I taught and enjoyed it. All, while working on my “regular” job.

Looking back, I realize that the “plan thing” is one of the things that made me good at what I did. If it was important, I wrote it down, I planned it out. I built in measureable success factors and then I tweaked the plan. When I implemented, I went back to the plan and tweaked it some more – what was working, what wasn’t.

When it came time to evaluate, it was easy. I went back to the plan – looked at the measureable objectives and deliverables – and asked “Did it work?”

I did the “planning thing” for work. I did the planning thing at home, or before traveling. I did the planning thing for my retirement – 30 years before it was time to actually do it. So, when that time came, it was easy. Retire…start teaching more, travel a bit, cheer on the Colts, do some more things with kids and grandkids, train the new puppies. It’s part of the plan.

Most PR folks talk a good game and know that they are “supposed to” plan – but because this is the umptyumpth news release, the gazillionth campaign, the most recent media pitch, they just go ahead and jump into implementation. There’s a problem with that, if you don’t plan it out you just repeat history. If you don’t write it down, elements can slide through the cracks. Sometimes you can forget that you promised Brittany that you’d do that blog post. If you don’t plan it, you tend to do what you always do and never try anything new. So, the work gets done, but it’s average. Not bad…after all, it got done. But…average. Not unique. Not creative. Just average.

So, Brittany, my one word of advice?

“Plan.” If it’s important, work or play, career or crisis, write it down and plan it out. You’ll do a better job.

IMG_0255-copy-768x1024Fred Bagg, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA retired from St. Francis Hospital in 2014 after 35 years. He has been active in PRSA and served as a Past President of the Hoosier Chapter, and is a past chair of the PRSA College of Fellows. Today, he’s semi-retired: teaching PR at IUPU; traveling; doing things with grandkids; and working on training six month old Labrador Retrievers, Berlin and Vienna.