Text 2. Government Propaganda



Unit 1. Public relations

Text 1: Public relations

Getting and keeping a  good reputation is the primary purpose of public relations. As a profession public relations (usually called simply PR) is a 20th-century development. But the reason for it has been well understood for many centuries. A writer of the Biblical Proverbs stated that “A good name is more to be desired than great riches.” The Greek philosopher Socrates was closer to understanding today's PR when he said: “The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” Public relations is based on the simple fact that people have opinions of each other and of government and other institutions. Therefore individuals, corporations, government officials, schools, religious organizations, and every other type of institution desire to be accepted by the public on the best possible terms. Public relations is a means of getting attention and shaping public opinion. It achieves its goals through publicity, advertising, the use of press agents, public affairs forums, lobbying public officials, and every other means that gets a message before the public. While most PR is directed outward at the general public or special segments of it, some is also directed toward people within an organization. Corporations use various PR devices to get and maintain good employee morale and commitment. Some companies use the term corporate communications instead of public relations. Public relations is often compared to, and sometimes confused with, marketing. Although they use similar techniques, their goals are different. Marketing, which includes advertising and promotion, intends to sell products and services. Public relations is an image-creation business that is trying to sell persons, government policies, corporations, and other institutions. A book by Joe McGinniss on the presidential race between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey was called ‘The Selling of the President, 1968' because it is about the PR tactics used to promote the two candidates. At its best public relations works in two directions. It attempts to make a person or organization responsive to the public and to public expectations. At the same time it tries to persuade the public to respond in a favorable way. When successful, good PR presents an image that corresponds to the reality. The most difficult task of a public relations specialist is probably crisis management. In September–October 1982 several persons in the Chicago area died after taking capsules of a popular pain reliever that had been laced with cyanide. The manufacturer of the drug made the wise PR decision to warn people of the danger and launch a nationwide recall of the product. Then, through its PR firm, the manufacturer made a series of public service announcements to restore confidence in the company and its products. Another crisis situation arose in October 1987 with the crash of stock markets worldwide. Prominent investment bankers quickly took out full-page advertisements in major newspapers in an attempt to bolster public confidence in the economy and in securities investments.

Text 2: PR Tools and Techniques

Part 1. Since the opening of the first PR firm in about 1900, there have been attempts to give a precise definition for public relations. It has been difficult to find one that fits all situations and all practitioners, since PR may be handled by individuals, firms specializing in PR, departments of corporations, or government agencies. One useful definition was published by the trade newsletter Public Relations News: “Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.” This definition, though it applies specifically to corporate PR departments, gives a general statement of purpose and function. To carry out its function PR specialists use publicity and other means to convey a message to the public. Publicity is the equivalent of unpaid advertising. It is information published in the press or mentioned on television news programs. The source of the publicity does not pay to have the news published as in the case of sales promotion and product advertising. The most prominent form of publicity is a press release by a government official. A presidential news conference may also be considered publicity. Sometimes corporations benefit from publicity when they introduce new products. In the late 1980s a major producer of business machines presented a new line of personal computers. At the same time that the paid advertising for the machines appeared, a series of publicity items was published on the business pages of newspapers announcing the products. Corporations achieve publicity by making contributions to the public well-being. Large donations to a college or university get news coverage. Corporations sponsor cultural programming on public television and such sports events as the Boston Marathon and the Olympic Games. Companies also give significant contributions to charities. Publicity designed specifically as PR is managed news: it is information that its source wants published. When contradictory publicity from another source appears, a public relations crisis can occur. The administration of President Ronald Reagan was caught in such a crisis in 1986–87. After several years of announcements that it would never deal with international terrorists, the administration was forced to admit that it had sold weapons to Iran in the vain hope of gaining the release of hostages held in Lebanon. So damaging was the adverse publicity that no PR campaign could overcome it.

Advertising is paid publicity. Its purpose in public relations is similar to that of advertising used to sell products. Advertising appears in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, on billboards and handbills, and in any other medium that can reach eyes or ears. Political campaigns beget a huge amount of advertising for candidates and issues. Corporations advertise themselves as well as their products and services. A major petroleum corporation, for example, ran a series of public relations articles in newspapers to present its views on current topics. When a company pays for the free distribution of baseball caps, T-shirts, cameras, or other items at a professional ball game, it is advertising itself and seeking public goodwill. Television commercials by the National Football League denouncing drug use are called public service announcements. They are also public relations advertising for the league. Press agents are individuals whose task is to keep the name of a client—whether a person or an institution—before the public. The best-known type is the show-business press agent whose business is to promote the career of a performer. Other agents promote motion pictures, tourist attractions, concerts, and other entertainments. There are large organizations that serve many individuals and companies. Press agents try to stimulate interest and create a public image rather than provide information. Candidates for public office hire press agents, and the agents frequently become staff members if the candidate is elected. Andrew Jackson was probably the first United States president to realize the value of having a press agent in the White House. Heused his friend Amos Kendall, a former newspaperman, as his ghostwriter and publicist. In the 20th century a presidential press secretary has been an integral part of most administrations.

Public affairs management is used by elected officials, government agencies, and companies to relate them directly to their constituencies or to a community. Congressmen, for example, hold meetings in their home districts to listen to problems and complaints of the voters. Corporations support the budgets of cultural events and public television broadcasting. Companies donate money to improve their home communities. Some businesses provide summer jobs for teenagers. Colleges and universities sponsor community events such as lectures, concerts, and plays. Fund-raising is a less obvious form of public relations, but it is a very useful one. Colleges, universities, hospitals, religious and fraternal organizations, and other associations take part in fund-raising activities. In so doing they also publicize their institutions. The annual United Way of America collections are a means of getting companies involved in collecting for charitable purposes.

Part 2. Other PR activities are carried out by lobbyists, consumer affairs bureaus, community relations experts, media consultants, and more. In addition to the many organizations that specialize in consumerism, corporations also usually have departments of consumer affairs to handle complaints and deal with other matters such as product defects. (See also Consumerism; Lobbying.) History The use of publicity and press agents in the 19th century might never have merged into public relations had it not been for American corporations. Far from being interested in gaining the public's goodwill, most business leaders expressed either indifference or contempt for the public. Heads of corporations believed it was their right to maintain secrecy about their lives and business operations. These attitudes were dangerous during an era when the public was becoming hostile to big business. During the first years of the 20th century, investigative reporters—called muckrakers by President Theodore Roosevelt—began to write devastating exposés of corruption in business and government. Many of these works were carefully documented and first appeared in magazines in 1902–4. The best-known exposés, later published in book form, were Ida M. Tarbell's ‘History of the Standard Oil Company', Thomas W. Lawson's ‘Frenzied Finance', and Lincoln Steffens' ‘The Shame of the Cities'. Upton Sinclair's attack on the meat-packing industry, ‘The Jungle', came out in 1906 and was soon followed by the enactment of a Federal Food and Drugs Act. In 1906 David Graham Phillips issued his ‘Treason of the Senate', which documented how the United States Senate and business leaders worked together against the interests of the public. These and other revelations, combined with the denunciations from Roosevelt, put both business and government on the defensive. It was in this social climate that corporations decided to promote themselves in a positive way. Among the first enterprises that sought favorable publicity were the railroads. Fearful of impending regulation, they hired The Publicity Bureau, a Boston organization founded in 1900. During the next few years several more organizations were founded simply to create good publicity for corporations. Many were started by newspapermen, who had spent their careers in generating publicity. One of the leaders in the development of public relations as a profession was Ivy L. Lee, a business reporter for the New York World. In 1903 Lee quit his reporting job to manage the campaign of Seth Low for mayor of New York City. The next year he was hired as a press agent for the Democratic National Committee. In the next few years, after organizing a PR firm, he worked as publicity director for the Pennsylvania Railroad and for mine owners in Pennsylvania whose employees were on strike. Instead of trying to suppress the news, Lee was open with reporters. He realized that, if the corporate image he was trying to create was not matched by corporate performance, his task would be hopeless. As government threatened regulation and public hostility crystallized, corporations turned increasingly to publicists like Lee. Other institutions also saw the value of public relations. Harvard University hired The Publicity Bureau in 1900, and the University of Pennsylvania set up its own publicity office in 1904. In 1909 an Episcopal church in New York City hired a public relations expert. The United States Marine Corps established a publicity bureau in 1907. World War I forced government into the PR business. In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson authorized creation of the Committee on Public Information, headed by George Creel. At a time when there was no radio or television, the committee conducted a national campaign to mobilize public support for the war, to encourage enlistment in the armed forces, and to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds. The committee conducted public rallies in major cities, using such film celebrities as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford to inspire patriotism. In the period after the war there was rapid growth of public relations as an industry along with the related fields of advertising and market research. The journalist Walter Lippmann published his book ‘Public Opinion' in 1922. A year later Edward L. Bernays published ‘Crystallizing Public Opinion', the first book on public relations as a profession. Many of today's large public relations firms were founded in the years immediately after World War I. World War II again brought the federal government into the public relations business. The Office of War Information (OWI), with radio news commentator Elmer Davis at its head, was founded in 1942. After the war the OWI was transformed into the United States Information Agency. One of the agency's responsibilities is the Voice of America radio broadcasts, sending news and features about the United States to the rest of the world. After World War II the public relations industry grew and prospered. By the late 1980s there were more than 2,000 PR firms in the United States and many more in other countries. Professionalization was encouraged by the founding of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 1948 through the merger of the National Association of Public Relations Counsel (founded 1936) and the American Council on Public Relations (1939). The American Public Relations Association (1944) became part of the PRSA in 1961. Other organizations include the International Public Relations Association (1955), the International Association of Business Communicators (1970), and various regional and state organizations. Early schooling for PR was mostly in the journalism departments of universities. Edward Bernays taught a PR course at New York University in 1923, three years after the subject was included in the curriculum at the University of Illinois. The first school of public relations was established by Boston University in 1947.

Unit 2. Propaganda

Text 1. Nature of Propaganda

A message that is intended primarily to serve the interests of the messenger—this is the basic definition of propaganda. It may also be defined as the spreading of information in order to influence public opinion and to manipulate other people's beliefs. Information can be delivered in many ways. Schoolteachers try to give accurate information to their students, and television news broadcasts attempt to provide it for their audiences. What separates propaganda from these is the quality of the information and the way it is used.

All propaganda is a systematic effort to persuade. Thus the issue is not the truth or falsehood of what is said. The propagandist gives a one-sided message, emphasizing the good points of one position and the bad points of another position. One of the most widely used forms of propaganda in the 20th century is the political speech. Politicians running for office try to project the best possible image of themselves while pointing out all the flaws of their opponents. Propaganda uses the media of mass communication—radio, television, newspapers, and magazines—to reach a mass audience. Such an audience cannot argue back; it can simply show approval or disapproval. If the propaganda were given to only one person, that individual could disagree and present other views. The same is true of small groups. The propagandist is not interested in a reasoned response but only in making converts to a point of view. Propaganda as an art of persuasion has been used for thousands of years. In the 5th century BC, when Pericles addressed his fellow Athenians on the merits of their city compared to the tyranny of Sparta, he was making propaganda—though there was a great deal of truth in his remarks. Many centuries later, when Thomas Jefferson and others wrote the Declaration of Independence, one of their main purposes was propaganda. The reasons for which the American colonies broke with Great Britain were put into writing because “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” As a term, propaganda came into use early in the 17th century. It is derived from an organization set up within the Roman Catholic church in 1622—the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. This is a missionary association whose name in Latin is Congregatio de Propaganda Fide. Propaganda can be compared to other attempts to persuade large audiences. Among them are advertising, public relations, preaching, and teaching. The first two are forms of paid publicity. Advertising is designed to sell products, services, and entertainments. The task of public relations is to create for the public an image of an individual or institution. The image is not necessarily false, but one that omits all flaws and faults. Many business firms have a public relations department with the full-time job of creating a favorable image of the company in the eyes of the public. Political candidates hire public relations firms to create an image of themselves that will appeal to a majority of voters. Preaching—religious messages delivered in a sermon—is normally viewed as propaganda by nonbelievers and as truth by believers. Teaching may become propaganda if it turns into indoctrination. Religious schools often teach doctrines and traditions. Government Propaganda Governments have always been the chief dealers in propaganda because they at all times require the support of their subjects or citizens. This is especially true in times of war, when governments want expressions of patriotism, self-sacrifice, and solidarity. The oldest surviving studies of propaganda by governments are manuals on state security in time of danger. They generally suggest that propaganda be aimed in two directions—at citizens and at the enemy. The citizens must be persuaded that their cause is right and that they are capable of defeating the opponent. The enemy is denounced as evil and made to fear the military power of the citizens. Propaganda intended to demoralize and confuse enemy populations or troops is called psychological warfare.

Text 2. Government Propaganda

Government Propaganda Totalitarian states have an advantage over democratic ones in using propaganda because they have greater control over the means of mass communication. They can present coherent and consistent messages to their publics with little fear of contradiction. Even a totalitarian state with all of its police power needs the support of its population, however. Both the Soviet Union and China had much opposition to overcome after Communist regimes were installed. Bonds of attachment to old ways of doing things and discontent with the new had to be overcome. In the Soviet Union, after 1921, a vast campaign using slogans, posters, lectures, and radio broadcasts was mobilized on behalf of literacy and the merits of socialism. In China, Mao Zedong mobilized the nation's youth through a massive propaganda campaign to stamp out all opposition to his reforms. The result was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which nearly destroyed the economic and social fabric of the country. (See also Cultural Revolution; Mao Zedong.) Lenin, the Soviet revolutionary, realized the value of propaganda to indoctrinate educated people. Toward the uneducated he advocated another tactic, called agitatsiya (agitation)—the use of simple-minded slogans, stories, half-truths, and outright lies in order to avoid the need for complex arguments. The two words, agitation and propaganda, were combined by him in the term agitprop. The Nazi government of Germany, from 1933 to 1945, was very adept at propaganda. In order to gain power, Adolf Hitler used his ability to tell each audience what it wanted to hear. He stirred fears of Communism when talking to businessmen, and he preached socialism when talking to the workers. After his party won office he installed Joseph Goebbels as head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. In this capacity Goebbels controlled the press, radio, theater, films, music, literature, and fine arts. He built support for war by drawing parallels with historical events and by emphasizing the Nazi concept of Germany's destiny and racial superiority. Democratic nations do not have such complete control of the media. Their governments are forced to a larger extent to deal in the open marketplace of ideas, where official propaganda can quickly be contradicted by nongovernment sources. This lack of control, however, is not necessarily a disadvantage. Citizens of a republic are more supportive of their governments because they do not need to fear them. The unrestricted flow of information makes it possible for the best ideas to prevail in the long run. In times of crisis, such as war, democratic governments can be just as effective in making propaganda as police states. This was demonstrated during the two world wars. On the positive side the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, declared that World War I was a “war to end war” and a war to make the world “safe for democracy.” Both of these goals proved to be illusions, but at the time they raised the level of patriotism and public support for the war effort. On the negative side the government promoted ethnic propaganda against the Germans, calling them Huns—thereby suggesting they were barbarians. The war efforts of the 20th century have demonstrated how effectively all means of mass communication can be used for propaganda. Posters, war bond rallies, songs, stage productions, radio programs, and movies were all enlisted to help bolster public morale. The American film industry was especially effective in promoting the war effort in movies that depicted the heroic and noble efforts of the Allies against the cowardly and treacherous tactics of the enemy. Among the most successful World War II movies were ‘A Yank in the RAF' (1941), ‘Wake Island' (1942), ‘A Guy Named Joe' (1943), ‘Destination Tokyo' (1943),‘Action in the North Atlantic' (1943), ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo' (1944), and ‘The Story of G.I. Joe' (1945). Although the films were not government sponsored, the producers usually had the cooperation of the United States War Department.

Disinformation is a word that came into use during the 1970s. It means a deliberate attempt by government to deceive by spreading mixtures of truth and lies. The word was coined in the Soviet Union about 1959, when a department was founded to spread false information in other nations. The tactics of disinformation are numerous. It can be as simple as getting a false news story printed in newspapers or spreading rumors by word of mouth. It may mean publishing misleading scientific and technical articles in official journals. Specialists in disinformation have used letters and other communications on official stationery with forged signatures. These are allowed to fall into the hands of government officials in one country to persuade them that another government is plotting against it. Sometimes disinformation is spread by organizations that are really fronts for political parties, special-interest groups, or for intelligence agencies.

Unit 3.  Communication


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