Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - PR, not Propaganda


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You're right, of course. PR was born as propaganda (with an advertising assist). Even more interesting is 'that' type of PR seems to have been born out of a reaction to 'objective' journalism.

Prior to propaganda, it wasn't called propaganda. It was yellow journalism with the same affect.

My question has been, more often than not, what happens when we lose objective journalism this time around (if we haven't already). Then, unless public relations evolves, we end up where we started about 100 years ago or so, with PR taking on the role of yellow publishers with citizens as amplifiers.

Thank you for being one of those content to pursue the truth.


@Sarah - well, I knew the term manipulation would get the conversation going. Good departure with ethics. Thank you so much for jumping off Twitter to the comment box. This is an excellent contribution.

@Len - really solid thinking here. I'm liking how you look at scale as in degrees of or ends of the spectrum. PR and communications are a reflection of the business, and indeed it is the business itself that needs to have the authentic message.

@Matthew Ray - if memory serves me right, we didn't serve together in the Army. As a Liberal Arts major who grew up in Europe, I learned my fair share of history about propaganda.

@Richie - given that we're touching upon organizational culture here, my post tomorrow will expand on it. Glad you liked the slides. Took a bit of looking and pulling together ;)

@Chris - "the technology is so atomizing marketplaces that they increasingly behave like real life" is a powerful insight. Yes, be social, be genuine.

@Dave - what you describe is even more pronounced in highly political environments like academia and non profits where accountability is second to status/power.

@Shannon - participation and guidance or counsel sound good. Many companies are also lost, still catching up on and believing their own propaganda ;) Thank you for the well wishes on the dialogue at Web2Open.

@Rich - when I was researching the topic, I found that PR was born as propaganda. It evolved or positioned out of it shortly afterward. Interesting to find out anyway.

@Peter - fidelity of message not compromised by desire to achieve sounds like a higher state of being to me, not just for the PR conversation, but for human interaction. It does start with mindfulness. So glad this post caught your eye. Directionally, many in the comments were headed this way...

"We're talking about genuine two-way communication, not just dissemination; information, not indoctrination; attention-getting, not agitprop; proof, not the truth (truth is a conclusion the other person gets to make). And so on."

I see this as the what to do. The question for many is why.

Personally, I think you are alluding to is a third way - neither PR or propaganda.

Common to PR and Propaganda is the idea of controlling the message to align with some desired future.

The third way (for want of a better expression) dismisses the idea of a desired future and allows for the future to self organize around an authentic message. This is a key strategy in a complex environment where you don't control the variables.

The third way is about a fidelity of message that is not contaminated/compromised by desire to achieve some end (PR /Propaganda). - What happens is the only thing that could happen.

I see your recommended behaviors and questions as bringing mindfulness to your motivations and checking the damage that desire can do to your future.

Though PR and Propaganda are far easier to practice than the third way.

Have fun on the 19th.


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