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What Carl Jung teaches us about contemporary PR

Few psychologists (save Freud and Benjamin Spock) have had as wide an impact on popular culture, and in turn, business communications, than Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (pronounced YUUNG; 1875-1961).  In fact, Jung may have had more insight about the power of the humble, compelling story (and stories as a core element of 21st century public relations practice) than perhaps most who have ever worked in the PR profession. 

In lay terms, Jung recognized that a story is more than a mere collection of facts, figures, syntax and language.  He knew stories had a higher purpose than merely to highlight product benefits, publicize events, satisfy voracious news cycles or inject a pulse into snooze-inducing PowerPoint decks.

In Jung’s world, stories were the “connective tissue” of all human experience. As fundamental as rocks were to geologists, Jung knew the story — that humble, contextual narrative with a beginning, middle and end — was the fabric for self-understanding, cognitive development and the basis for meaningful human interaction. He theorized that stories heightened shared meaning (the seminal element of all communication) and thus, enhanced the message impact between you, me and all those with whom we communicate.  Jung’s fanciful academic term for this was the “collective unconscious” — the means by which stories tap into our deep psychological reservoirs as a way to enhance meaning and mutual understanding.  As our reservoirs are plumbed by stories, the message impact for us increases.

The well-told, authentic story, employed as a cornerstone of public relations technique, takes full advantage of what the good Dr. Jung knew of this psychological infrastructure.  At WordWrite, we build on Jung’s insight by using the story archetype, an adapted PR equivalent to Jung’s insight, in crafting and telling our clients’ great, untold stories.  In our experience, the process works just like Jung says it would.  Who knew that a Swiss psychologist would have so much to offer about contemporary PR?

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