JMC417 students have explored quite a 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 into propaganda, fulfilling the low expectations of public relations critics? ABC PR continued in a similar vein. Both teams cited videos by PR Watch. The Agency posted on the related topic of credibility.
As I mentioned in comments, I think the Center for Media and Democracy (the source of PR Watch) does some important work, and I sometimes teach from their books. However, they only present one side of the argument, and often fall into the ideological trap of equating any form of advocacy with propagandistic bias. Considering the importance of the public information role played by PR practitioners, it’s important to critically evaluate each case on its own merits. Throwing out the baby with the bath water does a disservice to the public at large, as well as the profession.
Sparkle Media broached instead the issue of international PR, which we’ll be discussing in class this week. As a matter of fact, one of the readings comes from the case book they cite in their post. They frame the question as a matter of “the evolution of PR,” which can be construed in a few different ways. Are they suggesting that social responsibility is the latest trend in public relations? Or that other countries are somehow “underdeveloped” in terms of their PR approaches? The latter view is certainly problematic, but the post itself doesn’t elaborate on the term “evolution” in the title, so we are left to wonder.
Metis PR focused on personal brand management and professionalism. Students such as those in JMC 417, all seniors who will soon be on the job market, need to be particularly aware of the cumulative effect of their online presence. Those who have maintained MySpace pages, are active on Facebook, keep (or simply comment on) blogs, or participate in online communities under their own name, should take a look at what kind of impression they may be leaving with the public. Tallfore talked about another aspect of professionalism: the ability to make time for important commitments. This is always a challenge, in any profession.
Finally, I posted about the PRSA challenge to the US electoral campaigns of both major parties, inviting discussion about the utility of such a strategy. At this point, it seems that most people who have commented on this topic feel that it is more of a stunt than a useful way of associating PRSA, and by extension the public relations profession as a whole, with ethical behavior. They have also expressed skepticism as to the extent to which the campaigns would benefit from accepting such a challenge.
Ethical issues are always messy.