Communications practitioners who work in offices become alienated — estranged from what a company or client makes, ships and sells. This was brought home to me yesterday while touring a plant. It was humbling. The factory is 80 acres under one roof, thousands of machines, hundreds of workers and coordinated systems that take flat, gray steel and black pipe and turn it into two-story products. The noise was deafening but the power was awesome. As I told the tour guide, I could spend weeks wandering the plant just to learn what was going on in each department. This was just one of many factories the client has — all producing machines sold around the world. Sitting in an office in midtown Manhattan, I had no feel for the industrial might I was representing to journalists, and the journalists, for the most part, don’t understand it either. Perhaps, the best PR practitioners are those who have started near a shop floor and return to it regularly to get grounded in what companies do. At least they have a more realistic view of industry.

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