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Public relations

Jacquie L’Etang, the leading British theorist of PR, describes this situation in his “Public Relations and the Rhetorical Dilemma” publication. He emphasises that “public relations needs more public relations to increase public understanding of its role in society” (L’Etang 34). Public relations are seldom referred to in a positive way in the media. This concept is typically defamed as a mere propaganda and industry of spin which is busy trading in deceitful information and lies (Miller, 2003). Others publicly acknowledge the pragmatic mission of PR by saying that it is just an art of getting material into the press without paying for it, specifically, “the art of getting favourable coverage without paying for it” (“How to Get Free Publicity”). These approaches seem to be widely applied when the public needs to be manipulated against a certain governmental or corporate project. PR is announced pure propaganda and spin and the message is quickly dismissed. At the same time, while PR gets frequently referred to as spin or propaganda, this understanding of the phenomenon is one-sided and obviously lacks objective consideration. To make matters worse, this understanding is too simplistic and conceals the essential component of PR. Namely, PR is targeted not just at corporate interest advocacy, but at the advocacy of public interest, too. Apparently, the simplified interpretation of PR prevents public from realizing how PR makes up a part of normal information management practice in democracies and its role in getting public support for some practices that are beneficial for the general public as well as businesses. By drawing on contemporary critical sources on PR, our aim is to adequately examine the work of a PR practitioner, explore the sphere of PR objectives, compare the views of critics and advocates of public relations, and discuss ethical considerations in today’s PR. In addition, this paper attempts at producing a new objective understanding of PR and its role in modern society. It has already been mentioned that critics of PR generally refer to it as propaganda or spin. Propaganda in this respect has a clearly negative connotation and gets perceived as a pejoratively loaded concept. While it was not so in the distant past (research shows that propaganda was a term used to speak about contributing much into mobilization of the general public opinion), the term propaganda started to be applied differently after the World War I. In the period of lost ideals and widespread disillusionment, propaganda began to be seen as a tool of democracy advocacy (Tye 94). For instance, Edward Bernays considered propaganda important for democracy functioning because it advocates the developments in governmental policies or some new approaches in business. In the following years, the concept of propaganda developed even more to denote psychological manipulation of the audience by the repetition of a few simple points. In this case, the audience was perceived as a passive receiver and as “a vulnerable and persuadable lot at risk from propaganda” (Brooker & Jermin 5). Understanding public relations in terms of propaganda reduces PR to “the deliberate and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate conditions, and direct the behaviour and achieve the response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist” (Jowett & O’Donnell 4). The propagandistic underpinnings of PR were formulated by Lasswell (1995) and other scholars accepting ...Show more

Summary

Name Surname Subject Date Public Relations The term “public relations” is believed to have been introduced by Edward Barnays. The father of PR, as some would later call Barnays, used it in his publication Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)…
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