By Jazlean Gipson
On October 16, 2019, PR specialist, author, and professor, Christopher Cathcart, stopped by CSUN PRSSA’s meeting to give some insight into the mistakes he has made and lessons he has learned in hopes to encourage us not to do the same and learn from his experiences.
Cathcart graduated from Howard University and from there he got his first job at CNN as the Public Relations manager. When he left, he dabbled around in a few other companies in their PR firms, until he landed a job at Motown Records. He worked there for three years until he decided to start his own company. After years of working for his own company, he began teaching instead. Cathcart explained that he loves doing PR and loves teaching it even more. With all of the success he has had, Cathcart explained he has also had some shortcomings as well. He believes that a way to succeed is to make new mistakes, and the best way to make new mistakes is to learn from the ones he has had.
The first of the six valuable pieces of advice he spoke to us about was to not kill ourselves in attempting to figure out our career paths. He used his saying “Locate the neighborhood, and then find the address” as a way to explain that we should first find a field in PR that we enjoy the most, and then go into the specifics of the area and find out what we actually want to do. Second, he told us that we should all “fall in like” with special events, because we have to plan and host them on behalf of whatever firm we all choose to work with. His third suggestion was that we should all get aerial views of our surroundings, meaning that we should know how all the pieces of a company work, regardless of whether those positions are our jobs or not and it will give us better opportunities at success if we do this.
The fourth piece of advice, was that we will have to negotiate egos regardless of where we work. There are going to be people with larger personalities that are going to want something, and we have to know how to accommodate to their needs accordingly. His fifth was to create a brand for ourselves and to not let one be ascribed to us. We must avow our own brand, according to Cathcart. We are seen for who we are as we present ourselves. The sixth and final piece of advice he gave us was to find a mentor. Find someone who we look up to, contact them, and become acquaintances with them, because they will help you in the long run.
Cathcart also left us with other valuable pieces of advice, such as remembering that our job is not who we are and to create work systems that help us stay on track. Making mistakes is something we all do, and as we move throughout the world, it is important to learn from others’ mistakes and lessen the chances of us making the same one. Cathcart coming in and telling us stories about the mistakes he has made and giving us a short list of ways to navigate around them will greatly help us with our future endeavors.
All of the information and advice we received is going to greatly help us in our work life and social life.
Being happy and passionate and leaving a mark on this world is how Christopher Cathcart has moved throughout life and we all hope to do the same!