A practice designed to maintain the illusion of:
- communication (providing information);
- news reporting;
- participation and consultation;
while seeking to look good (Image management), and if possible exercise control and certainty for the paying client.
Absolute control and certainty is never really possible however PR works well enough to shape some of the beliefs and behaviours of the ‘targeted public’. Emotional responses are important including doubt and fear. This all makes a good working definition of propaganda.
It should be no surprise that the rise of Public Relations firms has coincided with greater demands for Governments and business (Corporates) to consult on issues and projects affecting citizens. Consultation in many cases has been turned over to Public Relations firms. Any increase in power the citizen feels is offset by the increased levels of process control, spin and propaganda commissioned by Corporate organizations in an attempt to redress the power balance. This strategy seems to work and so will continue for the foreseeable future.
PR is great at manufacturing and distributing memes. Want to discredit a politician then use bad photos.