Archive for the 'propaganda' Category

17
Nov
10

Lie to me

Lying

There was an interesting article in the Citylife and County living magazine last week: “The truth about lying“. Because PR is linked to the word ‘spin’ and can be seen as ‘lying’, I thought it might be interesting to read the article.

A sentence in the article that really got my attention was: “A world without deception might be a very difficult place to live – mean, do you want to hear that yes, your behind does look big in that?” I’m not really sure what my answer to this question would be and I thought really hard about it. It depends on what your behind looks big in doesn’t it? If my behind looked big in something that I really love I wouldn’t want to hear it, but if my behind looked big in something that was reasonable then someone could actually say that to me.

But we are not talking about behinds looking big in things are we. We are talking about lying in the PR business. An interesting quote from the article that I thought went very well with explaining PR and what it’s all about is: ”Know what they know. Be aware of their interests and activities so you can cover your tracks.” It’s all about relevance to the target group and what they want to believe and then you feed that to them. Is this lying? Not really, you are telling people what they want to hear or maybe trying to persuade people what you want them to think.

Then we always end up at the question: “Is lying, I prefer the word spinning, to your target audience ethical?” The answer that I think answers all the questions about if some actions are ethical is, NO. It is not ethical to lie or spin the truth, but as long as nobody knows there is no harm is there?

For example: Constructing a list of favourite music for David Cameron to help him manipulate his public image. Is this ok to pretend you like something because it makes you look cool or cultured?

The subject surrounding David Cameron might be a touchy subject but again the answer is: NO. It is not ethical, but do we really mind if we don’t know that David Cameron didn’t actually picked the songs? No. But we would mind if all the national and local newspapers wrote that David Cameron actually didn’t pick the songs, someone else did. Well then all hell would have probably broken loose. Wouldn’t it?

In my opinion ‘lying’ is a very strong word, especially when using it in combination with PR. It can be seen as ‘being economical with the truth’. We all do it sometimes to make ourselves look better, sound better, impress people, to get things our own way.  I don’t think that we have to be too cynical about this, we all know that the truth is manipulated but if we thought too much about that we would never believe anything! The manipulation has to be subtle, not too in your face, or it wouldn’t be credible.

Tell me what you think about PR spin. PR and the ethical aspect of it and if you think this is acceptable in this field of work.

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09
Nov
10

How would you explain PR to your parents?

How would you explain to people what PR actually is?

After the first lectures about PR Structure and Theory there is a bit of confusion about what PR actually is and how people perceive PR. What would the average pers

on on the street answer if you asked them the question? Do they actually know what PR stands for?

Julius CaesarPerhaps most people would be surprised to know that PR goes right back to the Romans and Julius Caesar or maybe even earlier than. Can we see him as an PR innovator? Maybe we can, didn’t he use and ancient form of reputation management, stunts and shows to get people talking and writing about him?

William the Conqueror and the Normans cleverly told the story of 1066 in the Bayeux tapestry., but whose story is being told in it? Do the tapestries tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or could they be the start of the oh so famous PR term ‘spin’?Bayeux Tapestry

A famous comment about Public Relations is: ”Public Relations was not invented by Americans and then exported elsewhere.”

But is this true?
Aren’t Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays famous for ‘inventing’ PR and aren’t these two from America? (Even though they are from America, they can be used as a good example of the start of PR to be able to come to a vague answer to the question of what PR is.)They were really at the forefront of PR at the time (even though it wasn’t really known as PR then!).

''Torches of Freedom''Bernays worked for one of the big tobacco companies in the US. He had to come up with a campaign to get women smoking as this was considered a male habit in the 1920’s. Posters that were used to persuade women showed young models smoking a cigarette in public on the arm of a famous man and lighting up a ‘Torch of Freedom’. Can this be seen as scientific persuasion or propaganda?

A quote from Edward Bernays: ”Those who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses pull the wires which control the public mind.” This can be seen as persuasion and propaganda but is it fair to say that PR can still be seen this way? Probably, if you ask UK journalist about PR people today.

Manipulation, propaganda, spin, influencing opinions and behaviour and persuasion. These are a few words that come to mind and have been used in this post when thinking of PR. Are all these words linked to PR to be seen as negative? Or could PR be seen as an important element in a democratic society?

There are so many questions surrounding PR and what it actually is. So tell me how you would explain to your parents or friends what PR is?




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