Monday, March 23, 2009

Behold the Venn Diagram of Truth

Successful public relations counsel is based on experience and observation. It’s not easy per se … in the sense that anybody can do it without really knowing much about it. But neither is it terribly complicated.

Unlike the law, accounting, philosophy or countless other professions, most of the top finishing schools that each spring release thousands of freshly degreed PR practitioners on an unsuspecting population spend most of the four or six years they have a student’s attention focusing on tactics and case studies.

Sure, attorneys learn the case law, but how many PR degrees qualify a graduate to think like a practitioner.

[I renew my plea for a simple noun to refer to the profession. Seriously: if you practice Santeria you’re a practitioner. /rant]

There are two consistently competing narratives about PR and its future.

Behold my Venn Diagram of Truth

One seeks to paint the profession as hopelessly complex. This theory makes for very interesting coffeehouse conversation, not to mention quite a bit of google love.

Proponents take the basic planning step of audience identification and turn into a quasi religion. Instead of deciding how your organization should address each audience, they fill binders and ppt decks with lots and lots of different messages that each audience needs to hear. Or read. Or share. Or … something.

Audience identification is essential, make no mistake. And various audiences can have disparate and specific interests. But beginning with the massive Theory of Everything elevates a tactical consideration to something far beyond strategic planning.

If it’s an art, put it in a museum.

This is Gnosticism of the first order: If there’s something somebody knows that ONLY they know then guess what: They wouldn’t be hustling you for you PR budget to tell you.

Next: We’ll Tell Your Story

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