Do we need a slow PR movement?

slowI’ve been on a freewriting course today. That involves getting your thoughts down in writing as quickly as possible (as opposed to being unpaid). It was interesting and a useful technique – especially the points about looping. Although also a little frustrating if you like to think about what you write and also research as part of informing the quality and reliability of your work.

As part of my PhD studies, I’ve also attended a speed reading course in the past. Again, useful to do and I did learn a few things about skim reading and ensuring that I read with a purpose. I appreciate the purpose of speed reading is to focus on getting the gist of what you read, but again, I found it a little frustrating not to be able to savour the words and really enjoy the craft of the person who was communicating through the written word.

Fast is an approach to coping with the modern world where we are overloaded with information and supposedly time poor. Doing it fast is supposed to be a way of getting more done in our limited hours, minutes and seconds. Busy, busy, busy.

The same seems to apply to public relations – no time for planning, evaluation, thinking or reflecting. Quick, quick, get that message out – tweet, tweet, or vine it in seconds…

But are we so busy churning out information – as fast as we possible can that we are losing out on achieving really memorable and remarkable communications. I wrote a post last September at PR Conversations, In praise of PR silence, where I argued in favour of writing short and using silence rather than churning out content.

Well, perhaps it is time to go further and advocate Slow Public Relations. If you’ve not been too busy rushing round, you might have heard of the Slow Movement – slow travel, slow food, slow cities, slow books and more ideas around stepping off the relentless treadmill of modern life and taking the time to reconnect with the world and ourselves.

Could taking a few minutes longer improve the press release you’re crafting – or enable a better conversation with a key influencer? Rather than quick Tweets, would a considered blog post convey your thoughts better? How about constructing a truly memorable speech – and taking the time to rehearse the delivery rather than winging it?

I’m not alone in this thinking as Wendy Culverwell advised PR people to “crank down the pitch machine” last year, citing Gregory Galant’s column about slow PR.

We all know that a little slowness and taking time out is essential in relationships – especially those that matter to us – so if public relations is about quality of relationships to enhance reputation with effective communications, isn’t it time to step off the accelerator and slow it down a bit?

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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 “Do we need a slow PR movement?”

  1. Perhaps it isn’t a matter of being slow; rather it’s a function of thoughtful thinking that often become more second-nature as we acquire experience. Our junior colleagues, however, don’t have the luxury of this experience, so perhaps they do need a reminder to slow down and pay attention.

  2. It’s not just about slow, but also about long. A longer article or blog post actually enables you to say something thoughtful and articulate your arguments. This obsession with short and snappy means you simply consume more – but lower value – information. Short is too often synonymous with quantity over quality.

  3. PJ – thanks for your comment. Agree that there is merit in being thoughtful (or mindful – which is a term I like) which can come with experience, but we need to be careful then about reacting on instinct which can be wrong.

    Stuart – I agree with long, both in the sense you mention and also thinking about the long-term impacts, which often a slow, thoughtful approach will deliver better than a quick, short, reaction.

  4. Love this post heather. I just finished a long interview with a phd student asking me where is the real value of pr counsel in the midst of a crisis. My response was ‘slow down, listen, think before you speak, write, tweet whatever…. Student follow up question: but isn’t the speed of reaction a quality factor in a crisis? Of course, my reply, and this is the reason to slowdown, listen, think before our spek, write, tweet, whatever…. Best

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