Shocking – or not?

24 Aug

In public relations theory, publics form around issues and public relations is needed when the attitudes or actions of an organisation or the public have consequences for the other. In other words – no problem, no public relations.

So it's really no surprise that conflict creates public relations problems and a demand for PR advice. Yet cashing in on conflict will always be presented as something sinister, as in this newspaper report. Critics of the PR business (Stauber and Rampton; Miller and Dinan) will see this an an evil example of capitalism ('cash for conflicts') and as more evidence of PR-as-propaganda.

PR academics (who aren't always apologists for PR) are exploring different concepts: PR as public diplomacy, and the role of PR in conflict resolution. That's consistent with the academic theory proposing 'win-win' outcomes based on the 'two-way symmetrical' approach.

One Response to “Shocking – or not?”

  1. David Phillips 25/08/2009 at 11:14 am #

    I think that we are now closer to understanding the notion of publics forming round issues.
    The idea that organisations have and live by values and those values are evident in tokens such as products, brands, services and corporate cultural icons (semiotics has a role to play here) is now very evident. There are lots of ways this can be tested, one of the advantages of transparency delivered because of the influence of the internet.
    The intellectual jump from publics forming round issues to forming round tokens is not so hard. Professor Grunig (who, with Todd Hunt put forward the notion of publics forming round issues) was not abashed by the idea when it first emerged as an Alan Rawl conference paper ‘Towards Relationship Management’.
    We know a lot about how relationships form round tokens online through the work of Bruno Amaral. Last July he very vividly (live online in front of some of the most critical PR academics in the world)showed values evident through semantic analysis of online presence that described the Bledcom conference.
    This sort of work completely undermines the arguments put forward in the Guardian article and exposes it for its shallow understanding of PR and PR history pre-dating Bernays. Were the Guardian closer to the classics in understanding PR from a perspective taught by Aristotle it would be more appropriate, relevant and germane to the article. As it is this is just trite drivel from a hack.

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