First find the problem

27 Aug

Medicine is often used to make comparisons, most often in the context of ethics and professionalism.

I'm drawing from medicine to make a simple point that many miss about the public relations planning process. It's about the diagnosis, not just the prescription.

You can't prescribe a dose of social media activity, or a course of media relations, or the surgery of an event, until you've first found the problem your prescription is designed to solve. So, find the problem, then recommend the appropriate solution.

You wouldn't be too impressed if a doctor wrote a prescription whilst admitting they didn't know what's wrong with you.

Easy? Of course, but I'm surprised how many practitioners begin with the prescription, preferring detailed Gantt charts (prescription) to persuasive executive summaries (diagnosis).

New? Not at all. Decades ago, Grunig and Hunt wrote: 'Typically, organizations develop a formal communication subsystem when the organization or its publics behave in a way that has consequences upon the other.' They argued that these consequences create a public relations problem.

To turn this around, if PR originates when there's a problem to be solved, the absence of a problem logically means no need for PR. So first find your problem! No diagnosis, no prescription.

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