Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Tag

PR or Propaganda?

The truth- that is what keeps Propaganda at bay from Public Relations. Doing what a practitioner does best – spinning, if based on credible facts is simply PR. But when the facts get diluted in the hype of amassing the largest number of impressions either online or off it, then its Propaganda.  

However, that brings us to the question of what is a truthful fact? A PR practitioner is the representative of clients and does not have much say about the factual information related to the core processes of the company. This raises quite a few ethical issues as the codes of ethics emphasises on practitioners to investigate the facts made by the clients. Though, in reality this is not always a possibility. The practitioner has to make a tough choice based on a professional commitment and faith on the clients ability to share facts. The PR practitioner acts like a good citizen of the corporate world and makes sure that the illusion of their client holds in the eye of the public. Sometimes it would mean defending the client on issues like environment and safety standards for employees. 

Is propaganda still powerful?

Isn’t that also the purpose of Propaganda? Eventually, both PR and Propaganda are selling an idea through a set of objectives and strategies. Propaganda is defined by E. Bernays’s as “the consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.” We see a similar theme when we look at how he defines Public relations: “attempt by information, persuasion and adjustment, to engineer public support for an activity, cause, movement, or institution.” 

 Where propaganda scores is on magnifying made-up facts and gets the negative connotations from the wartime propaganda and Nazi Germany. Though its roots go back as far as  1622 when Pope Gregory XV formed  The Sacra Congregatio Christiano Nomini Propaganda (the Congregation for Propagating the Faith).  

Though propaganda suffers from a negative reputation, the basic difference between the two is the way they are utilised to secure strategic objectives. So do Propaganda and PR coexist? Well, considering the rise of social media and omnipresent journalists who are on lookout for slightest misleading facts. So, if a practitioner deliberately uses untrue facts or a version of facts, then journalism sleuths are bound to catch such a action. Even if they don’t then customers won’t put up with such a campaign for long and its ramifications would resound in the form of a backlash for the company.  

Are Propaganda and PR synonymous? The definition and interpretation varies with the context in which it is being used. PR industry has always tried to embrace code of ethics and hold itself by the highest standards. Propaganda meanwhile has been associated with campaigns which violate these principles. 

Watch a report by AlJazeera about U.S. media being curbed from reporting Iraq war

 

 

http://www.trankin.com/advisor/propaganda.asp  

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/202/300/mediatribe/mtribe95/propaganda.html  

http://www.hotwireprc.com/documents/Public%20Relations%20versus%20Propaganda.pdf

Non profit PR v/s the other sectors

” Charities is the only sector that practices ethical PR and all other sectors mainly practice spin or propaganda”

 

Being a part of this debate, i had to support one side of the statement that yes, charities is the only way to do good, ethical PR for a simple reason that charities work for a philanthropic cause and not for scaling profits. So who cares what means were adopted to achieve a noble end! ” greater good for a greater number”. But unfortunately, the world isn’t like a black and white grid of chess board that it would be so easy to seggregate the good from the bad!

My conclusion about this debate like all other debates is that if there have been a series of scandals in the corporate sector and our politicians (whom we love to hate) have been caught doing propaganda just to cash in more votes; the NGO sector has also had its fair share of bad press and public scrutiny. NGO’s have also been attacked as a puppet at the hands of corporate giants who aim to cash in more credibility for their CSR activites on behalf of the charity they loop in. And in return for their favour, they end up getting huge sums of donations!

It could be argued that NGO’s are also selling a “product” of contented conscience for two main motives 1) To gain more media attention 2) For more donations 3) Win more supporters. But there is a difference in the approach and the end result. They are not serving the way trade unions or trade associations do.

Trevor Morris in his book “PR- a persuasive industry” says that NGO’s are engaged in a sophisticated transaction where there are no tangible goods involved or a conventional exhange of services. But customers end up buying a contented afterglow after contributing money or investing their time. Good PR at work ensures sustainance of volunteers or donors.

According to the international journal of Not-for-profit law, volume 8; january 2006: there has been a gradual erosion of confidence in leaders, institutions of governments and corporate houses. The paralysis and poor performance of these groups who promise to serve for public good have given an endless stream of scandals and have shattered public trust. in such a scenario, NGO PR emerges as a credible source of information in an effort to address the deficiencies.

The key points that came out from the debate were:

Credibility and transparency are the two main credentials which an NGO seeks to have because that leads to more donations and good publicity. But this is impossible to achieve without being ethical. Since NGO’s are not accountable to any governed body; thus,PR techniques used by NGO’s should be subject to greater scrutiny to ensure long term public trust.  

NGO sector has to be more ethical in terms of practising PR to mobilise the cause that they believe in with no underlined selfish motive. otherwise, it fails the very purpose of being n the voluntary sector. The attitue has to be self(less) and not self (ish)

NGO PR would ideally not wait for a crisis to occur and act with profound responsibility towards all citizens; unlike other sectors who indulge in CSR only if there is a crisis, an emergency or bad press.

NGO PR believes in building a “brand image” through long-term relationships with its donors and media, active campaigning and spreading awareness without calling it an act of “PR”

NGO’s use tool of persuasion in order to bring about awareness and change in the public opinion towards an issue or a problem. Unless persuasion doesn’t cross the line of propaganda, spin or astroturfing, it is acceptable!

Diksha

Related articles:

How to get media attention for your cause: http://nonprofit.about.com/od/nonprofitpromotion/fr/attentionreview.htm

Issue management: http://nonprofit.about.com/od/mediarelations/tp/issuesmanagement.htm

propaganda: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Pentagon_military_analyst_program

coke zero indulges in astroturfing: http://www.thezeromovement.org/