Social Learning role in PR

Posted: March 22, 2010 in Public Relations Industry Notes

This week in my class we went over several theories that shape how we communicate. One of the most interesting theories has to be the social learning theory. The general idea behind the this theory is that an individual learns or picks up mannerisms from watching surrounding environment.  Social learning theory is derived from the work of Cornell Montgomery which proposed that social learning occurred through four main stages of imitation:

  • close contact
  • imitation of superiors
  • understanding of concepts
  • role model behaviour

In my opinion I think this theory is one of the top theories used in the PR industry. With this being such a copy cat industry (especially in image consulting), practitioners tend to learn how to handle situations based on the mistake they see others make. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just the nature of industry. In some instances, the only way you can learn about a situation is if you see someone else and how they react to it, which is the general basis of this theory. From experience I can definitely see how the social learning is used in PR from my days an intern for the Georgia Southern Athletic Media Relations staff my junior year.  I had no idea what I got my self into when I started because I was so clueless and new to the experience. One of my college football coaches gave me some of the best advice I ever heard when I started the internship “Don’t let your fear of being wrong stop you. You have to learn from not only your mistakes but others too. That’s how you get better.” Now that I look back on the concept of this quote, puts the idea behind the quote in perspective. Social learning actually a theory you use in an everyday setting because in order for us to continue to grow and get we must learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others.  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s