Public relations has a paradox: on the one hand it needs to measure to the nth degree its impact in the digital world and embrace Search Engine Optimization (SEO) led PR. (Check out Stella Bayles excellent introduction).
On the other, it needs to calmly accept the fact that, like the ancient mariners who put monsters or dragons on their maps to indicate the unknown, we in public relations need to do the same – or what I call NEO – Nothing Evidently Observable.
We exist and operate in a world of increasing granularity where can know of things to precise detail. Yet, paradoxically, we operate at the same time in a world of deep darkness.
We can often be needlessly, and unhelpfully beating ourselves up, allowing ourselves to be put down because of a failure to recognise and respect this double-side reality.
Our PR world is increasingly becoming more granular in how it goes about measuring what it does. Forward-thinking communicators urgently need to address its big wake up call to measure, evaluate and iterate.
Yet we must also accept communications and PR operate in a world where we need to identify and consolidate our understanding of the equivalent of the dragons on our map – the NEO: Nothing Evidently Observable.
If scientists can accept the existence of Dark Matter – where they readily admit that parts of our universe are beyond comprehension, or financial experts recognise ‘radical uncertainty’ where we cannot compute an outcome, shouldn’t we in PR be honest and comfortable to recognise at there is stuff in human activity and our communications universe that eludes definition and direct control?
In her book ‘Dark matter and the dinosaurs’ scientist Lisa Randall highlights how science recognises three components of our universe: dark energy – the expansive and delocalised property of space itself, ordinary matter – that includes atoms, subatomic particles and even Black Holes – and lastly, Dark matter.