Despite tendencies to differentiate skills and specialties in disciplines like liberal arts and sciences from skills in public relations, these disciplines are all connected. Communications professionals can, and should, borrow from these disciplines to achieve the most reach, impact and viability of their communications strategies and tactics.
Borrowing a multidisciplinary approach from the field of public interest communications, public relations professionals have the opportunity to approach their work with a more complete set of tools. Public relations professionals should look to academic disciplines like sociology, psychology, political science and neuroscience to achieve successful action-based change through communication campaigns that are rooted in science-based planned strategic communications.
The internet age we live in is constantly evolving to better suit its publics and how they want to be approached. Like the internet, public relations professionals should consistently seek more effective methods and newer insights to make their work more successful.
Looking to science for answers about our target publics can help public relations practitioners find credible results for decision making that are rooted in data and research. This increases the level of credibility and viability of these strategies, tactics and tasks.
“To make well-founded decisions about our future, both as societies and as individuals, we need a basic understanding of the way science works. We need politicians and policymakers and media figures to understand that, too,” says Director Emerita of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University Elizabeth Bass.
Another positive feature of a multidisciplinary approach is the ability of public relations practitioners to leverage information, like the sociology of beliefs and science behind individual brain function, to gauge the best strategies for their campaigns.
Though it might take a few years for public relations practitioners to devise strategies and tactics based on this science, people might view the roots of conflicts, like prejudice, more objectively if they are told that there is a neurological reason for these issues.
“Peacebuilders need cutting-edge social and neuroscience in order to understand what really works in changing behavior,” according to the Washington Post. “They need to understand not just what people are thinking, but how they think.”
Whether you’re interested in crisis communications, environmental issues, education legislation or nonprofits, public relations teaches us that the key to actionable, sustained change is found in a multidisciplinary approach that is constantly updating, changing and evolving.
Lana Nasser is a recent graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications and a member of the Community Service and Advocacy Committee at the UF PRSSA Chapter. She spends her free time adding to her record collection, reading Rousseau, London and Thoreau, and learning about the world of public interest communications. See her portfolio for more of her published works, find her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @NasserLana.