We are the smartest species in the tech jungle

The geek may inherit the earth, but PR practitioners will still be masters of the message

Mark Borkowski: Founder of Borkowski.do
Mark Borkowski: Founder of Borkowski.do

Humanity may have stopped evolving, but comms certainly hasn't.

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, our beloved behemoth of the biological world, David Attenborough, affirmed we had "stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear 95-99 per cent of babies that are born".

Perhaps a little more interesting were his comments on the ways in which we are evolving culturally: "Humans have a great cultural inheritance - we can inherit a knowledge of computers, TV, electronics and so on... Each generation has all these books that tell them these things, so our cultural evolution is proceeding with extraordinary swiftness."

There are few places in which you can see this evolution happen more quickly than at the heart of the PR industry.

Although many practitioners, including Edward Bernays - the 'father' of the profession - claim PR is "practically as old as society", it was only at the turn of the last century that we really saw it solidify.

PR commentators uphold the notion that the industry has undergone a radical shift in the past ten tears. My view is more prosaic: the more things change, the more they remain the same. Yes, this is a time of flux; however, advocates upholding the idea that the practice of communication is in the throes of a Big Bang should realise technological progress provided us with more efficient methods of making money.

Change is complex, overarching, bumpy and, above all, primarily evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It's always been thus. Those intent on making capital from change generally posit contemporary futurist dogma while ignoring the lessons of history.

PR didn't waste time on the foreplay of development. We used the tools of the age to reinvent how we worked.

PR has the Selfish Gene. With every innovation in the past 100 years of human history, it has found gaps in which it can flourish. To understand the changes that shape the profession daily, we should realise why the disciples of PR are the smartest species in the jungle.

While the Mad Men were fornicating, spiralling into imperious drunken stupors, PR professionals grabbed the opportunity provided by raw technology of the age to spread and control instantaneous communication. Then, as now, the Holy Grail is the shareable narrative; it fuels positive word-of-mouth.

PR folk got smart. We possessed the instinct; we could smell and taste victory, we knew how to make the most of things.

PR men and women adored the printing press, the telegraph wire, radio, film, and TV. The mail-merge programme, fax machine and the personal computer made the heart sing. Burdens were lifted by the cellphone, laptop, smartphone and tablet. Every atom of our flesh quivered with delight as email, social media and apps became more than mere novelty.

But we should remember we are the dominant animal. Our inherited experience, coupled with our focus on tech, means our time of authority has arrived. Our power is a given: we can translate strategic consequence. Therefore, let us not allow the soul-sucking data nerds in to reinvent our heritage, character or our true worth.

Mark Borkowski is founder of Borkowski.do

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