PR Campaigns – The blog

September 9, 2008

Propaganda is a dirty word

Filed under: CAST Communication — asbrooks04 @ 5:27 pm
Tags: ,

The ethical landscape has changed. The days of the Edward Bernays propaganda-is-PR style of communications, meant to control the masses, has transformed into a new model of transparency and trust. In the technological age we are living in today, consumers are more savvy of business practices, and certainly more reluctant to drink down any message that is served up before it. Groups like PR Watch are constantly there, surveying the validity of what we say, what it means to the public, and giving the public a once-hidden glance into the world of PR.

Anyone can research, anyone can verify if what we’re selling is really in their best interest, and, with a click of the mouse, find out what people from all over the world are saying about it. Now, more than any other time, we are responsible for conducting truthful and ethical business and communication practices. It’s too easy to get caught with your pants down.

(written on behalf of Cast Communications)



  1. I definitely agree with the notion that public relations professionals today need to make sure that ethical practices are their main concern. It is so easy for people to track what is truthful and what isn’t, and one small slip can leave a bad reputation forever. That’s why I think pr today is much more dynamic than it once was because pr workers are more professional and have to strive harder to reach goals and objectives due to all of the obstacles.

    Comment by cate415 — September 9, 2008 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  2. I actually think that much of what the PR Watch people do is valuable, and I sometimes teach from their books. It is important to approach public relations from a critical perspective, just as we need to approach journalism or any other media function critically. However, they have a very limited view of what constitutes public relations, and they tend to conflate PR, advertising, and marketing.

    Is the difference between PR and propaganda simply a question of ethics? We’ll be talking about this more in class Thursday, but I’m curious to know what you think.

    Comment by drgilpin — September 10, 2008 @ 2:00 am | Reply

  3. While the practice of using ideas about human beings in order to control the masses has evolved into, hopefully, something a little more refined and ethical; relating public relations to progaganda is still unfortunately not so far-fetched. Groups like PR Watch, while they tend to blur the lines more often than not, are crucial to our practice. Public relations in my book stands for “positive relationships” and it is impossible to establish proactive and beneficial relationships with the public and deliver well-executed messages, if we are not trusted.

    The one thing to keep in mind here is this: just because with the click of a mouse anybody, at any time can find out some dirty laundry on a particualr business, should not be the sole reason why PR professionals conduct honest and ethical practices. We should value our profession enough to remain loyal not only to our message but to others on the receiving end of our message as well.

    Comment by letsgoblogging — September 10, 2008 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  4. I do believe there are more than ethics that stands between PR and propaganda but I think, for the most part, the general, traditional public sees PR as another form of propaganda. And for that purpose, the concept of PR is given negative connotations. This is why I think defining the difference in PR and propaganda begins with adhering to strict ethical practices.

    Comment by asbrooks04 — September 11, 2008 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  5. This video makes a strong point that we, the American public, believe that we’re free of propaganda when in fact, we call it by a different name; “Public Relations.” Propaganda in and of itself has a negative connotation. I wouldn’t say that all public relations is propaganda in that sense. Instead public relations has the potential to become propaganda when it’s abused and becomes dishonest. I think it’s important that pr professionals are aware of this problem and do their part to have ethical practices. Public Relations can make a positive impact in society by remaining truthful and ethical. Without it, many beneficial campaigns wouldn’t get their feet off the ground. As pr professionals it’s important to exercise responsibility.

    Comment by marialinda17 — September 12, 2008 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  6. […] range of topics this past week, as they dip their toe into blogging. Cast Communications looked at propaganda, which tied into last week’s classroom discussions as well. How can we keep PR from devolving […]

    Pingback by Weekly roundup « PR Campaigns - The blog — September 15, 2008 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  7. I was going to use this video for my blog post because it raises alot of quesitons as to that fine line between propoganda and public relations. There are a few things I found interesting. One was the importance of putting messages in the mouths of people we know. It made me wonder if someone is saying something or endorsing a candidate based off their own view or based off PR. I also found it interesting that the best PR is invisible PR. That’s a scary thought if you think about it. We’re being persuaded everywhere we go, yet we feel like we’re making our own decisions. Wondering whether our thoughts are our own or if it’s what we’re being told to think can keep a person up at night. I feel like there is a fine line between propoganda and PR…for now.

    Comment by ambrewe1 — September 23, 2008 @ 9:24 am | Reply

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