Choosing your PR strategy
If you are haunted by the idea that your wife is going to discuss your spermiogram with her hairdresser, that your father-in-law is going to let you know how his boxer-short generation was better off than you youngsters with your tighty-whities, or that the little old lady from next door is going to tell your kid that “your real daddy is a man from the clinic” or “your mother was a real floozy, be glad you’re adopted,” then you’re going to have to think long and hard about how you’re going to present your situation to others. Everything can be dealt with somehow: make sure to get all the information, switch to a doctor who isn’t tired of seeing you all the time, and intensively pamper your depressed partner so that she’ll forgive you your six-month delay in going for a spermiogram. But know this: once its been made public, information can never be taken back.
According to the dictionary (Wikipedia, for instance), public relations (PR) consists of the techniques and tools used by institutions or companies in order to build and maintain their relationship with their surroundings and with the public in an attempt at influencing public opinion. PR is a long-term activity aimed at providing the public with information while also receiving feedback and other information from the public. An important feature of PR is two-way communication. PR should be continuous and systematic, with the aim of gaining and maintaining understanding and support from people with whom you will be involved in the future.
The basic philosophy of PR could thus be summarized as follows:
1. continuous, long-term, systematic and purposeful activity;
2. two-way communication;
3. determining the attitudes of others;
4. the aim is to gain and maintain understanding and support;
5. any change in attitudes obtained through force is of short-term duration; such methods are inappropriate for PR (and usually illegal as well).
There are probably few areas in life where guys fare as poorly as in PR regarding medical issues related to planned parenthood, even though this is an area where they need to gain and maintain understanding and support from at least one person – their partner. Women are incomparably better off, partially because they have been forced to confront reproductive issues since early puberty. If guys visit any reproductive specialist, then usually only later in life when they can’t get it up… or if they have problems conceiving.
Persons and institutions for which you should prepare a PR strategy:
2. experts (healthcare personnel and adoption agencies)
3. others (biological family, your family and your partner’s, friends, neighbors and acquaintances)
4. your future child, whether the result of medical intervention or adoption
Planning your parenthood and dealing with infertility are your business and nobody else’s. This is why you should, right from the beginning (ideally, after having decided that you are going to spend your life together but no later than after discovering that you are having difficulties with conception), come up with a PR strategy towards the outside world and a PR strategy towards your future child. These strategies should contain a mutual decision as to “what to say” and “how to say it.” If one of you prefers to say less, you should respect that. And both partners MUST respect this agreement.
But don’t expect me to give you detailed instructions on how to communicate with your friends and family and so on. All I can do is give you some tips on what not to do.