Critical Thinking and Why It’s A Must for PR Pros

By David Landis, President, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI), San Francisco
 
Last week, I hosted a Webinar for public relations professionals throughout the world who are members of our Public Relations Global Network. The topic? Critical Thinking.
Many of us, in any business, but perhaps especially in PR, fall into the day-to-day trap of working hard but operating on auto.  We follow directions and get the work done. But do we provide true value to our company and our clients through critical thinking?
In this age of the technology-driven workplace where results are expected instantly, we tend to rely on an app, a software program – or Google – to do a lot of the work for us. But in the end, does that really provide critical thinking? We explored that topic with more than 80 of our affiliated PR agency staffers, to ask some relevant questions, such as:

  • What are the consequences of our actions?
  • How does one judge the credibility of sources?
  • Do clients always have the facts?
  • How does one analyze information to draw appropriate conclusions?

 
First off, why is critical thinking important in PR (or in any business, for that matter)? Well, for starters, we need to know how to interpret information for our clients and for the media.
So, here is a 3-step process to better critical thinking:

  1. Identify some of the qualities that make a Critical Thinker. They include:
  • Inquisitive
  • Research-driven
  • Well-informed
  • Analytical
  • Open-minded
  • Questioning
  • Judicious
  • Someone who always asks, “How?” and “Why” and confirms the facts

 

  1. Articulate how people with weak critical thinking skills communicate vs. those with strong critical thinking skills.

 
Weak:

  • “It’s fine the way it is.”
  • “I don’t waste time looking things up”
  • “No matter how complex the problem, there is a simple solution”

 
Strong:

  • “I can make it better”
  • “Figuring out what people really mean is important to me”
  • “Rather than relying on someone else’s notes, I prefer to read the material myself”

 

  1. Incorporate these 6 steps to stronger critical thinking:
  • Interpretation: think about a wide range of consequences, experiences and data
  • Analysis: identify intended and actual inferential relationships among information
  • Evaluation: assess the credibility of statements
  • Inference: consider relevant information and draw appropriate conclusions
  • Explanation: present the result of one’s reasoning in a cogent manner
  • Self-Regulation: self-consciously monitor one’s thought processes

 
In the end, in the words of Shakespeare, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
What’s your secret to successful Critical Thinking? Email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “Critical Thinking and Why It’s A Must for PR Pros

  1. As PR pros we must always ask the difficult questions to our clients and our team in order to facilitate critical thinking. Working with Landis Comms has taught me to always think ahead and ask what are the consequences to an action.
    Thank you for doing the webinar on critical thinking!

  2. Working at LCI taught me so much about critical thinking in PR, especially when it comes to media relations. One aspect is pitching, and we take them seriously here b/c we don’t want to waste anyone’s time and make sure we place stories for our clients. Therefore, we reach out individually to reporters and cater to their beat/style – which takes critical thinking in creativity and diligence.

  3. David, critical thinking continues to be an important topic across all industries. Thank you for making it a larger discussion among our PRGN members. Too often, I think, PR professionals are more concerned with pushing out a product quickly rather than stopping to think about what that product should be and look like. I think one of the best traits of someone who is a critical thinker is someone who asks a lot of questions and looks at an argument or situation from all sides.

  4. David, I thoroughly enjoyed your webinar last week! With social media and apps now delivering news quicker than ever before, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to check facts and think critically. While taking the extra time to do this can feel like an added burden when under pressure and time is of the essence, it’s an invaluable skill that will be well worth it in the long run.

  5. This is a print it out and keep nearby blog. Very helpful tips whether you are a planning a meeting, mapping out a project and doing a new business proposal. Critical thinking is essential for developing sound strategies.

  6. Thank you so much for the webinar and for this important blog. I have always felt that one of the most important services I can provide to clients is candid, informed feedback. This comes not only from experience, but also from the ability to think critically. Often clients believe that a product or service is newsworthy, but haven’t asked insightful questions. It will hurt the overall PR campaign if we push out information that’s not newsworthy or timely. But being a naysayer is never a smart move! So I really like what you said about being inquisitive and open-minded — I have found that by asking the right questions, I can usually offer an alternative solution or idea, and then it’s win-win.

  7. Hi
    Thank you for this.
    This is a very informative piece and indeed we need to constantly exercise critical thinking and no accepting things as they are, or even worse take shot cuts to finding solutions.

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