Words of Wisdom

By Becky Birdwell

At 44, I find my history narrows down to a string of life defining moments – some good, some not so much. And, when asked to write an article for this newsletter, one suggested topic was to describe how my career as a publicist benefitted from my years at UT (‘84-‘88). Obviously a degree from UT carries a lot of weight, but I can narrow it down to one sentence by a great professor of mine. At the time, I had no idea what her words meant to my future, and it’s important to note that it took almost 18 years for the next life defining light bulb to go off before I had the chance to put the first one to use when I joined the world of public relations.

My professor and I sat (my pocket-sized memory tells me it was in Garrison Hall) discussing a recent poor grade on a paper. Government / History / Art History degrees incur a slew of writing components which kept me tied to the typewriter; and, I was shocked when she looked at me very plainly and said, “Becky, you don’t know how to write a proper paragraph.” Basic gram- matical rules escaped me at the time, actually most rules for that matter. Here I was (a junior) at the University of Texas learning how to write a paragraph. This was a perfect example of a mortifying experience that served me beyond measure, and that very moment gave me a voice which I learned how to use to my great advantage. In fact, I always joke that my fingers rapping on keys speak much better than the more traditional use of my mouth. Some might attribute it to the fact that I tend to use little foul language when writing, but I would defend it by a few solid examples of heatedly fired off emails which could make your hair stand on end.

This voice which has long been a part of me is one of human connection that I exercise professionally through writing. PR comes in all forms. My version is the specific ability to connect people who need and want to be connected. My colleagues and I naturally desire to snap folks together with ideas, images and words, just as kids are fascinated by snapping Legos together to see what comes of it. We’re born communicators; and, with the world of media currently in its most pro- lific form of “wacko” with digital wizardry versus the fabled world of print, the only real common bond is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. While my days at UT taught me many things it was the straight- forward wisdom of a professor who took the time to be honest that set me on a path (albeit twisted at times) which persuades me to speak each day by the simple good use of the written word.

Becky Birdwell received her B.A. in government in 1988. She is a publicist and the principal of bbpr, which she started in 2002. Prior to this she worked in NYC in the fashion industry for designers such as Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan. Currently, Becky resides in Houston, and anxiously awaits her return to NY in the fall of 2010.