Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Clausewitz teaches War, also PR

Clausewitz is definitely a war specialist. However, his philosophy on war can also be properly used in PR world.

Clausewitz said, “War is the continuation of policy by other means. The political object is the goal, and war is the means of accomplishing it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes.”

What Clausewitz means in this sentence is that war is always the way to accomplish the political goal and can never get away from what the goal directs. The goal goes first with the war second. Similarly, in the world of communication, we must possess a clear goal to direct our thoughts. Especially, if we work in companies, the business goal is the over-riding goal we have to stick to during any communication process. Communication goes after the business goal. If communication tactics do not support the business goal, they are totally wrong, though meaningful in their own contexts. Thinking strategically requires we have right goals first and then develop right communication tactics accordingly.

Clausewitz also said, “War is an act of will aimed at a living entity that reacts.”

Using this statement, Clausewitz explains how important it is to precisely predict how the living entity will react towards the war. The more the commander knows about the enemy, the more likelihood he takes to win. This phenomenon is also pervasive in the PR world. All communication should be framed so that the audience to which it is directed will react in predictable ways. However, most of Public Relations practitioners ignore the significance of the prediction on the outcome of your ideas. Many PR practitioners just communicate what they want to share, but not what their audiences really want. In this case, audiences’ reactions may often be out of control, at least, out of PR people’s imagination, and then lead to an unsuccessful communication. We should be the PR people who know the audiences, understand their necessity and estimate their reactions to increase predictability of what we want them to see. Audiences’ thinking is the key in strategic communication.

1 comment:

  1. This is a super interesting observation. I've never thought to compare war to PR but there are definitely a lot of similarities. While I like to say "it's PR, not the ER," the strategies deployed in a time of war can be helpful for foreseeing issues and crisis. I will definitely give this book a read and make a few more parallels over winter break. Thanks for such a great suggestion.