Back in my first year of University, the question, “Is Public Relations (PR) an art or a science?” was posed to my wide eyed and bushy tailed, seminar class – we went back and forth in a debate and if we did come to a conclusion, I can’t say I remember where we landed (admittedly, that could be down to one too many snakebite Sundays!)
Fast-forward an undisclosed number of years and I’m sat in a busy agency, a fully-fledged PR professional finding myself asking the same question once again.
When you’re learning the theory it’s often easier to jump to conclusions, coming down on one side or the other. However, in my honest opinion, I believe PR is a delicate balance between art and science. This isn’t a cop-out answer (I promise); I’ll attempt to explain how I drew my conclusion!
Firstly, it helps to define both terms, as described by the English Oxford living dictionary:
Art (mass noun): The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination
Science (mass noun): 1. The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
1.2 A systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject
So, when we describe PR as an art, whether that’s consumer or B2B PR – whichever way you look at it, it’s creative. It’s all about taking a concept and turning it into messaging that’s tangible, engaging and more importantly newsworthy.
It is at this point that the science comes into play.
The science of PR comes from the research, reporting and acquired business acumen to ensure that a campaign reaches the desired demographic, that the message is executed through the right medium, on budget and with a measurable ROI. Whilst getting the timing right could be seen as an art; ultimately it comes down to observation, testing and experimenting – Eureka!
In the Neo PR office, I’m surrounded by creative minds that have mastered the art of creating a compelling story whilst also demonstrating a unique understanding of the science of B2B technology, aligned perfectly with extensive knowledge of the (rocket) science behind how to get media attention.
PR is a unique industry that skilfully balances both parts – mastering the science of which, is an art. A campaign won’t be successful where one of the two elements is missing!
As Isaac Asimov, a writer best known for his science fiction novels once stated: “There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies but different aspects of the whole.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself!
What do you think? Is PR more arty, or more creative? Let us know! @NeoPRLtd