Humanistic roots for PR?
The University of Toronto is home to the Marshall McLuhan Coach House, where some 30-40 years ago the likes of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Woody Allen and John Lennon came to debate communications. Basically the idea was to leave with 2-3 probes (questions) for further thought.
A week ago today, I also attended a seminar in the famed Coach House to explore the humanistic roots of books for universities. My thoughts were posted in my blog but these were the three questions that I left with, as they relate to public relations.
1. What are the humanistic roots for PR?
While this seems like an obvious parallel to make given that communications involves at the very least two humans interacting, it may not be so obvious to some. For example in my career (especially early on in social media), some practitioners told me they want to be on a social network for their company but they only want to push out information and not feel like they also have to respond or they wanted to hide behind the company name when responding as opposed to identifying themselves as individuals at the company. Shouldn’t PR always begin with humanistic roots?
2. Is our PR work linear or associative communication?
A few thoughts were tossed around like people do not have linear days unless they are very lucky and imagination is associative – not linear. Someone else said there is no such thing as a linear discourse. So why then does PR maintain a linear form of planning?
3. Is PR better served through empirical thought and learning?
Early on in the discussion it was mentioned that Marshall McLuhan did not consider himself a theorist but rather an empiricist. Empirical thought is open and every step is a novelty, whereas a researcher based in theory would find this chaotic because experience would have to fit a theory. With this connected world where the rules are ever-evolving, does an empirical approach provide better value to PR?
A few probes to ponder…