PR isn’t rocket science – or is it?

A lot of public relations is about changing behaviours and mindsets.

Two articles came to my attention today that look at how change occurs – proactive and incremental, and forced.

The BBC looked at the doctrine of marginal gains – many small improvements adding up to one big improvement. Its impact is seen in the emergence of the UK as a major force in world cycling – and in how to win a hot dog eating competition.

Meanwhile, some clever people at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have found evidence suggesting that the Tube strike of February 2014 led to a nett economic benefit. Their analysis of Oyster card data shows that many people found better routes to work, which they stuck to in the months afterwards. The academics’ paper is not an easy-read – the introduction begins ‘Do agents make first-best choices?’ – but I was struck that sport again provided an example – this time high jumping’s Fosbury Flop.

So, if sport can benefit, maybe PR? I’m sure it’s not new to think about public relations in terms of either of these models. But I wonder how much we might gain by talking to others well beyond our discipline to find new ways of tackling our comms challenges?

My degrees are in astrophysics and mathematical astronomy. I’m wondering what I can transfer from that education to my comms work. I often hear people say PR isn’t rocket science – but maybe it is?!

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