The PR BlogCreativityBrain FuelStoic Philosophy for PR Professionals

Stoic Philosophy for PR Professionals

When the obstacle is the way to better PR.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

Could stoic philosophy for PR professionals work?

A few hundred years BC, a Cypriot merchant lost everything in a shipwreck.

His name was Zeno, and according to the legend, he walked into a bookstore, broke and almost beaten, and searched for answers by reading philosophy. Some years later, he went on to lay the foundation of Stoicism.

A stoic believes that we should take the Universe at face value without expectations.

But Stoicism is also, in more ways than one, the opposite of traditional public relations and marketing; we strive to influence perception and manufacture consent by making people want more.

PR is often about bigger, better, faster, and stronger.
More drama. More conflict.

What if Zeno was right—and we are wrong?

Growth by Enduring Hardships

The idea of a stoic approach to public relations made me revisit a book I read a few years ago, Ryan Holiday and his book The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs.

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday.
The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday.

Drawing from stoic philosophy, Holiday argues that Stoicism isn’t just about enduring pain and adversity with perseverance and resilience; it’s about allowing these obstacles to make you grow.

Then, a stoic PR professional would avoid reaching the masses with fireworks and platitudes.

To succeed with the Stoic philosophy for PR, we must transform obstacles into opportunities. The difficulty of your path must be your best tool for conquering public opinion.

Could stoic philosophy work as a modus operandi for PR professionals?

A Stoic Philosophy for PR

Stoic Philosophy for PR Professionals - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Marcus Aurelius (created by AI).

The Stoic PR Professional

I’m fascinated by Stoicism and I’m inspired by the idea of translating classical Stoic virtues (wisdom, courage, justice, temperance) and applying them to public relations:

The Wisdom Pitch

“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desires into undertaking.”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Tell stories of how organisations can be wise and overcome obstacles that have stopped others in their tracks.

Convey the PR message of how to apply wisdom, knowledge, and experience.

The Courage Pitch

” We cannot choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
— Epictetus

Tell stories of brands that never back down in the face of hardships that would lay waste to other organisations.

Convey the PR message of how an organisation can be righteous even when storms are raging.

The Justice Pitch

“Concentrate every minute on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice.”
— Marcus Aurelius

Tell stories of how organisations relentlessly can strive for honesty and transparency — even when it’s uncomfortable.

Convey the PR message of how all brands, without exception, can rid themselves of dishonesty and incompetence.

The Temperance Pitch

“It’s not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.”
— Seneca

Tell stories of organisations that strive for higher values in a world where all other organisations suffer shortsightedness.

Convey the PR message of organisations prepared to abstain from short-term gains to make the world a better place for all.

Read also: Stoic Philosophy for PR Professionals

When the Obstacle is the Way

The Stoic philosophy for PR professionals could be a practical approach. I like the idea of a PR professional who sees opportunities where others only see obstacles.

I also like the idea of a PR professional who’s not striving for short-lived fireworks but who strives to build brands of substance. I like the idea of a PR professional who drives awareness through doing difficult things.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

PR Resource: The High Road Tonality

The High Road Tonality

An organisation is the total sum of all its coworkers. Imagine taking the most mature traits from each coworker and combining them into one voice — the high road tonality.

  • Openness. A mature organisation understands that everyone must be allowed to express their thoughts and opinions.
  • Fairness. A mature organisation will see (and respect) both sides of a divisive argument.
  • Strength. A mature organisation is confident in its chosen strategies and acquired abilities, not because they’re perfect, but because they are grounded.
  • Wisdom. A mature organisation will take their time to explain complex topics without condescendence.
  • Humility. A mature organisation understands that no one can have everything completely figured out and that we all have learning and growing to do.

Read also: The High Road Tonality: Don’t Be Pushed Around

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.



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We were chasing waterfalls in Älvdalen, Sweden. This amazing place is called Stopfallet. We've been here several times before and can't wait to return.
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