“What’s philosophy got to do with PR?”
Rarely before had I been asked so directly in a job interview to justify my degree. In the past interviewers had more or less glossed over the details of my undergraduate education. It can often feel like there is an unwritten code of communications recruitment that a decent arts degree is a good start to a PR career.
“Everything” was my answer.
The reason? At its most fundamental, philosophy is the art of convincing somebody else to agree with your idea. Surely the same is true of PR, right? So when I am in need of some inspiration, I look to the philosophers.
I won’t pretend I can still explain Cartesian dualism or even begin to understand David Lewis’s argument for the existence of an infinite number of possible worlds. University was some years ago and though I find them utterly captivating, the actual philosophies are not what inspire me.
What does inspire me is the flair with which the philosophers make the case for their ideas. Arguments are laid out with such precision and deftness that the conclusion appears indisputable, often inevitable.
Of course there is an entire academic industry in picking apart these arguments, attempting to demonstrate that the arguments do not imply the conclusions.
The skill with which philosophers disprove ideas is equally inspirational too.
Professional philosophers assess the soundness of an idea on the truth of the premises and conclusion, as well as the validity of the argument structure. We professional communicators can learn from this method.
So next time you’re looking for inspiration before writing that press release, storyboarding that video or drafting that speech I encourage you to think of the philosophers.
Philosophers have been successfully winning arguments for over two thousand years. If that’s not inspirational, I’m not sure what is.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did convince the interview panel to agree with my idea that philosophy has everything to do with PR. I got the job.
Article written by Andrew Marcus, head of communications at Museum of London
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