by Jilleen Barrett, A&E Editor & Managing Editor
John Paluszek, a former editor-in-chief of The Quadrangle, revisited Manhattan College to co-host an event with the Public Relations Student Society of America following the release of his new book, “Global Public Relations in the Roiling 2020s.”
Members of the PRSSA executive board presented on various topics covered in the book, which was mostly about the spread of disinformation and how the communication field can help bring an end to that.
Paluszek told The Quadrangle what it means to him to be part of an event such as this one.
“Well, it’s so interesting to see that the students were quite willing to engage and do the background reading and so forth, and have formed opinions on these vital issues of today,” Paluszek said. “So it’s very encouraging for those of us who will begin to fade to know that a new generation is forming, that will be exercised, involved and hopefully, pursuing solutions successfully.”
Timmy Kwong, the vice president of diversity and inclusion for the club, presented on global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A pandemic is a communication emergency as much as a medical crisis,” Kwong said. “And I think this is a really solid statement to start the conversation, because when you think about a medical crisis, you think about the virus itself. We think about the vaccine distribution or the safety protocols, but in order for all these things to emerge into certain communities or society at large, it requires communication.”
Paluszek offered his opinion on each topic presented, and reemphasized what Kwong drew from the book about the pandemic.
“It [the pandemic] is obviously going to extend uncertainty, and we have to be patient with science as it evolves to present to us the newest findings, the newest conclusions — even if there are changes, in terms of the emphases that we have had in the past for earlier threats,” Paluszek said.
Kristina Zagreda, the treasurer of PRSSA, chose to speak about the relationship between public diplomacy and public relations. She spoke specifically about one section of the book in which Paluszek wrote about former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his advice to U.S. President Joe Biden: to have a public diplomacy agency working directly with his administration.
“This is actually very important because we need this for coordinating and sending messages across the government across the world and to all the people,” Zagreda said. “And we also need to improve our social media and inform the public of our foreign policy to be engaging and create a healthier environment with that.”
Zagreda also reemphasized Kwong’s points about the pandemic and how two-way communication plays a role in public health.
“So it is our job and also [the experts’] job to give us the correct information … People need to listen to the experts, but the experts also need to listen to the people,” she said.
Toward the end of the event, Paluszek narrowed in on communication between smaller groups, such as the Manhattan College student body. He encourages students to see communication as another skill to acquire in college before entering the job market.
“Public relations students entering global society professionally, should have developed an acute curiosity antenna in order to be receptive and comfortable with the world’s many variations of thought, action, and effect,” he said. “Words are sacred — if you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little. Students, go and nudge the world a little.”