PR and Philosophy: Closer Than You Might Think

Curtis Sparrer

December 15, 2021

As an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, I took numerous philosophy classes. In the years since graduation, several lessons learned have remained with me as I contemplate life, career and society. These deep connections to philosophy serve as touchstones to my admiration of the past’s great ideas and their relevance to my profession.

For example, we are “politely pushy” at Bospar – making me think of Sisyphus of the Iliad. His life’s work became pushing a stone uphill, forever. And while PR sometimes seems like a Sisyphean grind, being politely pushy helps us get the results we need, while making for long-term success. Sisyphus teaches us to never give up, and we Bospartans take great pleasure in following our mission and getting that rock up the hill. Regardless of any obstacles.

Plato has lessons for PR people as well. The Republic advances the idea that every task has an owner, as well as the notion that the most important part of the work is the beginning. Our firm employs numerous “task owners,” from media relations pros and account executives to a writing staff that puts The New Yorker to shame. Every individual contributor adds value, and their ongoing efforts are critical to our success. Even the most basic tasks help us to earn results over time.

Motivation, excellence and positive purpose are foundational elements of good action, as is quality work, according to Plato. And the Platonic ideal is why we are so particular about our work product. We believe that every deliverable should be “client-ready” and that all client encounters should be a showcase for our sharpest and most effective thinking.

Bospar also tips its hat to the Greek “eudemonia” concept, which translates to “flourishing” or “happiness.” We believe Eudamonia informs our HR policies, holding employees in high regard. This includes offering robust benefits that go above and beyond the basics. In fact, Eudemonia means providing not only health and retirement benefits but also softer perks like wellness and professional development benefits, along with a culture supportive of the rights of women and LBGTQI+ persons.

What’s more, I credit my philosophical education with reminding me of the practicality of the Melian Dialogue. Caught in the middle of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in 416 B.C., the Melians were forced by the Athenians to choose surrender or face extinction. In the end, the Melians were subjugated and slaughtered, teaching us the lesson of knowing when to capitulate in order to live and fight again another day.

When living in the daily reality of being a communications professional, it always helps to remember the great Greek philosophers. Their perspective enables us to achieve a more elevated way of thinking that not only enables us to refine our approach to PR but also to life in general.

Curtis Sparrer is a principal of Bospar PR. He has represented brands like PayPal, Tetris and the alien hunters of the SETI Institute. He is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and has written for Adweek, Forbes, the Dallas Morning News, and PRWeek. He is an active member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association.  Business Insider has twice listed him as one of the Top Fifty in Tech PR.

Tags:

Greek mythology, Iliad, Philosophy, PR, PR insights,

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