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

Core Critical Thinking Skills

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

2. 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”

3. 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 david@landispr.com or leave a comment below.

More information

Official Website Landis Communications Inc. (LCI): www.landispr.com

Portrait: David Landis

Photo: David Landis

Image Caption: David Landis is President/CEO of Landis Communications Inc., past President of the international Public Relations Global Network, and has also served as an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Golden Gate University.

4 Comments

  1. Uwe Schmidt October 21, 2015 Reply

    Hi David, there is a lot of uncritical thinking in the world and it’s really important to fight for more critical thinking in all spheres. Best wishes, Uwe, your PR colleague from Industrie-Contact, Hamburg, Germany

  2. Ashley Boarman October 24, 2015 Reply

    Critical thinking seems so obvious, yet so few people actually take the time to do it. Thanks for the great tips, David!

  3. Author
    David Landis October 24, 2015 Reply

    Thank you all for recognizing this – I believe critical thinking can help in all business, but especially in PR and marketing. Cheers, David

  4. Morgan Windhorn March 8, 2016 Reply

    This post puts it into perspective how important critical thinking is in the PR world. The qualities you listed under number one, are all strong characteristics of a good PR professional. Thanks, David!

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