Why Joining up the dots is not the best way to do PR

ConnectTheDotsRichard Bailey’s latest blog post did what it was supposed to do- make me think. Unusually, it also made me disagree with him. He suggested that PR is similar to learning a new language. You go through a process of babbling, learning words, figuring out how they work together and then, eventually, you become fluent.  A bit of me went along with this, because that’s how we are taught PR, and how as a PR practitioner-turned-academic, it’s how I have seen people teach PR.

But, then I started to think about it some more. And the idea of joining up dots, or putting pieces together in sequential order? Well, the rebel in me started disagreeing.

I think that the thing which is missing from most young PR people is confidence in their own ability to see the big picture. And as long as we are using cliche analogies, for me what makes the difference between an apprentice learning the language or putting the dots together, and someone who is REALLY good at PR, is whether they have the confidence to challenge the traditional approach. It’s about thinking outside the box.

Too much PR is taught- either in university or on-the-job – as a case of step-by-step mechanics. Do this, then this and you will get this. I am constantly chastising my students for rushing to use the latest PR “toys”- social media, media metrics that measure outputs rather than outcomes, you know whatever is flavour of the month, so fill it in here………..

In fact, BEFORE PR, you need to think about the nature of the problem. What is missing from PR education and PR practice is enough time and thought paid to the actual problem, issue or opportunity. Sometimes, PR is not the solution, and using it is only going to make the problem worse. So, for my students, I tell them to stop- listen-think, before running to the toy box.


About catherinesweet
Academic, professional, communicator, stakeholder in a dozen different disguises

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