Relativity & Communications: Understanding Programs, Businesses & Careers Relative to Others


The success of PR programs, businesses, and careers, are determined by their differentiation relative to others. In a new article for, I make the case that relativity should be understood as a fundamental law of communications. It is only by understanding what we do relative to a well-defined universe of agencies, clients, ideas, content, and media that we can achieve our goals. This requires work.    


Einstein Communications Relativity

Einstein, time, and gravity are likely top of mind when we think about the idea of relativity, but there are some useful parallels to draw upon to frame the value of the concept for communicators.

“In our universe, social, professional, and economic rules govern interactions between each part of the system. For example, the relationship between PR professionals and journalists reflects unwritten, but clear, rules. These may not be as fundamental as gravity, but they are important nonetheless.”

I also note that since the big bang of public relations, the industry has built out an architecture that reflects these rules and has created defined channels through which we communicate. And, driven by our innate need to simplify complexity, we tend to take shortcuts – some of which are beneficial and others less so.  

Elevator pitches, press releases, and short social media posts, for example, help us communicate complex ideas in ways that will resonate with audiences. But the urge to simplify can also lead to the laziness of chasing silver-bullet strategies or not doing the necessary work to determine how our approach fits within the broader context of the universe in which we operate.  

Research and competitive analysis are key to using the idea of relativity to achieve differentiation. Seeing what we do as part of a system provides a framework for understanding whether we are likely to achieve our goals.    

“Looking at the world through the lens of relativity provides an efficient path to decision making within complex systems. Think buying a car, pitching a journalist, or hiring an agency.”

In this context, there’s an additional benefit. What we do does not have to be perfect to be successful. “We just need to be better, relatively, than others.”  

Read the long-form version of this article on


Simon Erskine Locke is founder & CEO of communications agency and professional search and services platform, CommunicationsMatch™, and a regular contributor to CommunicationsMatch’s technology helps clients search, shortlist and hire agencies and professionals by industry and communications expertise, location, size, diversity and designations. CommunicationsMatch powers PRSA’s Find a Firm search tools, Capitol Communicator’s Sourcebook, and developed the industry’s first integrated agency search and RFP tools, Agency Select™, with RFP Associates. 








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