Breaking PR: The Essential Elements of PR

"Breaking Bad" aired its eagerly anticipated finale on Sunday. And whether or not you are a fan of the show, it’s hard to argue that its impact on television hasn't been significant.

Obviously, PR pros shouldn’t model themselves after lead character, Walter White. After all, being a murderous drug kingpin doesn’t exactly net good publicity. Not to mention chemistry and PR are vastly different vocations.

Still, if you think about what chemists and PR practitioners do, you can find some common ground. That is, both mix and match elements to produce reactions. Granted that the notion is quite literal for a chemist. But PR pros must incorporate a number of principles, theories and practices in order to do their job well.

So, as an informal tribute to Breaking Bad, PR News created the PRiodic Table of Elements. The table has several important elements that a PR pro needs to consider on a day-to-day basis. Yet, unlike with chemistry, there is no danger in mixing these elements to create your own formula for success.

(click on image to expand)

PRtablePrintable Full-Size Table

Follow Caysey Welton: @CayseyW

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  • Tom

    Kudos on the idea and PRiodic Table!
    One nit: It’s easy to argue that is HAS been significant. Don’t you mean “it’s hard to argue that its impact on television hasn’t been significant”?

  • Scheidtweiler PR

    Nice Table. I’ll print it out in DIN A3 and put it to the wall of my office. You don’t need to use every aspect. But there are great ideas in it!

  • Pat

    Pretty hard to read, even at full size

  • Cristina

    Agenda Setting is written twice

    • Caysey Welton

      Great catch! Fixed.

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  • Bill McLaughlin

    Clever Casey. Although I hated chemistry in HS. That is why I am in PR/Communications.

  • Michael F Kelly

    I’ve come back to this chart several times and
    tried to find some insights in it, but have not. It seems like taking a
    list of words and sprinkling them on a structure with high meaning in
    an attempt to look more meaningful. But there is no periodicity, no
    logic, no underlying structure to the PR version. It seems to me to be
    just a way to say: ‘Look at ALL the things we do!” and if that’s true,
    it’s sad. We can do better.

    • Alison M

      Agreed Michael! Not what I was hoping…
      But Breaking Bad finale was all that I hoped for…and more!

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  • Alan Kelly

    It’s great to see that you’re asking the question: What are the professional units of practice in PR? Chemists have chemical elements. Biologists have species. Musicians have notes and scales. My answer, as posited in my 2006 book, The Elements of Influence, is that the most basic units of PR (and any influence function) are strategies. Here’s a link to an interactive table that brings PR into focus:

  • Paul Ertelt

    I found a Y for “yes” but nothing for “no.” I know the PR profession puts great stock in being upbeat and positive, but sometimes you need to tell a client “don’t do that.” Perhaps there should be a De for Devil’s Advocate. The controversy over Hallmark’s ugly sweater ornament (“Don We Now Our FUN Apparel”) underlines the need for this role. Anything dealing with a Christmas tradition or the word “gay” should be approached with extreme caution. (I don’t mean to fault Hallmark’s PR team. I do not know the inside story or what role they played. It is likely they were never consulted beforehand.)

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