Should PRs just do it?

highlights the value of intuition with a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink which is a great read.  The book isn’t advocating acting without thinking as it shows knowledge and experience underpin the ability to make an immediate judgement. 

Another excellent book on the topic is Stuart Sutherland’s , which is sadly out of print (but I obtained a copy via ).  Sutherland, like Myers isn’t quite so supportive of intuition, giving evidence also of its failures.

As public relations practitioners, I believe we need to understand this aspect of decision making.  In the past 20 years or so, a modernist approach has been apparent with theories and models developed to help guide a more scientific, planned approach to our work.  These link into the belief of rational management  which proposes that a logical approach based on research and evaluation is the answer to any problem facing organisations. 

But, in the face of an overload of information – as highlighted by Gladwell’s article on Enron (see previous post) – and operating in a rapid, 24-7 world, where people power is evident, an understanding of chaos and complexity theories are required.

For me, this is one of the most interesting areas of the syllabus we’ve studied on the diploma course this year.  The post-modern perspective of Holtzhausen and Murphy’s complexity theory, both raise interesting matters that could improve the practice of Public Relations.

Richard also mentions a new book , that argues for disorder as an element of success.  I’ve always felt the reason for my messy office is that I have been genetically or socially programmed to be untidy as it runs in the genes of the Liddiment family (as I was born).  Now, I can take it as a sign of being efficient – if only I can find what I was looking for….

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

4 thoughts on “Should PRs just do it?”

  1. I’ve always worked intuitively, based on knowledge and experience. You also need confidence, self-belief and common sense. I’m now trying to apply that background to PR theories, it seems to be working ok so far.

  2. There’s a lot to be said for developing an ability to work intuitively – whilst being aware that sometimes snap judgements aren’t always the best. My two “wants” when recruiting PR practitioners in previous jobs was did they have common sense and a sense of humour. I think both are essential in this profession.

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