What does the term “gagging the press” imply?

10.  What was the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) set up to ensure?                                                                                                                                                                                              

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Mass media and PR   

"News is what someone does not want you to print - the rest is advertising,"  Randolph Hearst

Mass media are tools for the transfer of information, concepts, and ideas to both general and specific audiences. The relationship between the news media and the PR industry is a complex and increasingly symbiotic one. The media is the central vehicle for much of the PR industry's messages. PR practitioners want to place their stories in the news or other publications and programmes. Without being able to do this, PR would lose one of its main avenues for communication with the public. The media in turn has become more dependent on PR to supply content to fill air time or column inches. Whilst newspapers have been steadily shedding staff over the last couple of decades they have simultaneously managed to produce ever thicker publications, and the ever growing ranks of PR are happy to help fill the pages. The power of the big agencies and spin doctor goes beyond this however. As the primary point of contact between businesses and the media, PR people can control access to information which journalists want. This gives them tremendous leverage in negotiating with journalists, as they are in a position to refuse information. Magazine editor, Mark Dowie, comments "even the most energetic reporters know that they have to be somewhat deferential in the presence of a powerful publicist. No one on a national beat can afford to get on the wrong side of a Frank Mackiewicz or a Harold Burson, knowing that their firms [Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller] together represent a third of the most quotable sources in the country."

One of the primary tools for supplying content to the media is the press release. This was invented as a PR tool by Ivy Lee. Ideally the press release will provide a publishable article that a over-worked (or lazy) journalist can publish with minimal effort. Anyone with much experience of press searching will have noticed how the same article can appear in several different publications under different names, with only minute changes. Newspapers acquire such content from press agencies such as Reuters or the Press Association which employ their own journalists, as well as from PR agencies and some intermediate services such as PR Newswire. One of the most alarming effects of the burgeoning PR industry's relationship with the media, is that it leads to a steady dumbing down of most news outlets. Today the media is dominated by big corporations. Few newspapers in Britain or America are not owned by a media corporation. And as the press has become more corporate so its emphasis has shifted from traditional news values - investigation and reporting - to market driven values - profitability, and maximising readership. Noam Chomsky suggests that the most important value for the modern press is to deliver audiences for their advertisers, who supply the bulk of revenue. Fewer journalists are employed and less and less time is available for investigation. Instead content is supplied ever more directly from the press release. Investigative journalism becomes rarer and is supplanted by source journalism. In this environment the PR companies have become a necessary crutch for the media, but not one that the media is keen to investigate and expose to the public, "like an alcoholic who can't believe he has a drinking problem, members of the press are too close to their own addiction to PR to realise there is anything wrong." The PR has not been quick in recognising the importance of the internet, but it is beginning to develop strategies for dealing with the new medium. Some of the key practices with which PR agencies aim to tackle the internet include, monitoring and intelligence of relevant internet sites and communications, and through 'viral marketing'.

The Bivings Group is a PR company that specialises in internet PR. Working out of offices in Washington D.C., Brussels and Tokyo, Bivings conducts its PR services for clients including Monsanto, Phillip Morris, and BP.

In 2001, when Californian scientists published a report in Nature, showing that Mexican maize had been contaminated by GM pollen that must have travelled over huge distances, it was a potential disaster for the biotech industry. However the two scientists were roundly and falsely condemned in their methods and political sympathies by correspondents to a biotech listserver, and in the resulting scandal Nature published a retraction of the article. Research revealed however that emails sent in by the two scientists' detractors originated on Bivings Group's servers. Bivings denied all knowledge.



1. What is mass media?

2. What is the relationship between the news media and the PR industry?

3. What is the power of PR people in media?

4. What are the primary tools for supplying content to the media?

5. What was the invention of Ivy Lee?

6. What is the most alarming effects of the burgeoning PR industry's relationship with the media?

7. What does Noam Chomsky suggest?

8. Why has the press become more corporate?

9. What is the relation between PR and internet?

10. What is the activity of the Biving group?


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Product Placement  

Product placement (PP) is a method of advertising where commercial products are placed into entertainment programs such as movies, TV programs, video games, music videos and books. An actor in a movie using a product that was paid to be placed in the movie is product placement. A music video that showcases a product because it was paid to do so is product placement. A video game that features a product that was paid to be included in it is product placement. Thus, product placement is a form of paid advertising that works differently than paid commercials. Nowadays product placement is a vehicle for everything from foodstuffs to electronics and automobiles.

Many consumers do not realize that product placements are paid for. The audience thinks the product 'just happens to be there'. And, when they see their favorite actors, movie stars, celebrities, bands, and video games using certain products, it affects them differently than a commercial that they know is paid for. The product becomes a part of their favorite media.

Although not all consumers appreciate product placements in the media, it seems be better received than commercials that interrupt regular programming. Some of the world's richest companies are paying thousands of pounds a year to have their products 'placed' on television programmes.

The most common form is movie placements. Product placement is something that dates back to at least the early 1950s when Gordon's Gin paid to have Katharine Hepburn's character in “The African Queen” toss loads of their product overboard.  Since then, there have been countless placements in thousands of movies. Another very early example potentially occurs in Jules Verne's “Around the World in Eighty Days” (1956) in which transport and shipping companies paid to be mentioned as it was initially published in serial form.

Product placement is becoming bigger and bigger in the TV business. Nowadays Microsoft and its rival Apple are renowned for investing in product integrations on television. Apple has a long-term product placement program—that’s why you typically see its products in movies and television shows. Apple has recently stated that it does not pay for product placement, though executives will not say how their products get into movies and onto TV. The most plausible argument may be that Apple computers appear to be more visually appealing than ordinary PCs. In a twist on traditional product placement, Hewlett-Packard (HP) computers now appear exclusively as part of photo layouts in the IKEA catalog.

Compared to movies and television shows, books are less visual. Whenever a brand is written on a page, the reader just visualizes its logo. If there are people reading, then brand recall has a good chance. With e-books getting more and more attention, it’s only logical that advertisers invade that platform as well.

Some placements provide productions with below-the-line savings, with products such as props, clothes and cars being loaned for the production's use, thereby saving them purchase or rental fees. Barter systems (the director/actor/producer wants one for himself) and service deals (cellular phones provided for crew use, for instance) are also common practices. Producers may also seek out companies for product placements as another savings or revenue stream for the movie, with, for example, products used in exchange for help funding advertisements tied-in with a film's release, a show's new season or other event.

The most common products to be promoted in this way are automobiles. Frequently, all the important vehicles in a movie or television serial will be supplied by one manufacturer. James Bond films pioneered such placement. The 1974 film “The Man with the Golden Gun” featured extensive use of AMC (American Motors Corporation) cars, even in scenes in Thailand, where AMC cars were not sold. In “Desperate Housewives” three of the characters drive Nissans, and the camera view often focuses on the Nissan symbol on someone's car. Cadillac chose to advertise in the movie “The Matrix Reloaded”. Similarly, product placement for Omega Watches, Vaio, BMW and Aston-Martin cars are featured in James Bond films, most notably, Casino Royale.



1. What is Product Placement?

2. Is PP free or paid for?

3. What do consumers think about product placements in the media?

4. What is the most common form of product placements?

5. What does Apple`s long-term product placement programme imply?

6. What can you say about Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Microsoft product placements?

7. What does the term “below-the-line saving” mean in product placement?

8. What do the terms “barter systems” and “service deals” imply?

9. What are the most common products to be promoted?

10. Can you bring examples of product placement in movies/TV shows/ music videos / books


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Black PR

Information is the single most important thing that moves the global economy, influences political regimes, and constructs human behavior. It is a tool of our trade and a powerful ally, but it is mainly a weapon of mass destruction. Information management and manipulation, social engineering, and traffic shaping are the black crafts of the digital age. There are countless real-life examples in which information is used to cause harm. Call it Black PR (BPR), industrial espionage, information warfare...all make use of the latest information-gathering techniques to stay ahead in the black information market.

So, what is Black PR? The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Black Public Relations (BPR) or negative PR is a process of destroying someone’s reputation and corporate identity. In other words, instead of concentrating your efforts in the maintenance and the creation of a positive reputation/ image of your clients, you are trying to discredit someone’ else (usually your business rivals). Unlike the regular services in Public Relations, those in BPR rely on the development of industries such as IT security, industrial espionage, social engineering and competitive intelligence. Their main objective is finding all of the dirty secrets of their target and turning them against their very own holder.”

In summary, BPR is all about professional smear strategies, industrial espionages, propaganda and information hacking because data accessibility is crucial for every BPR campaign. The building of a black PR campaign, also known as a dirty tricks or a smear campaign is a long and a complex operation. Traditionally it starts with an extensive information gathering and follows the other needs of a precise competitive research. The gathered information is being used after that as a part of a greater strategical planning, aiming to destroy the relationship, e.g. between the company and its stakeholders.

Those who control the information flow now govern the world. New technologies and web applications have changed the entire communication blueprint. The big corporations have realized that they might lose control over the masses by letting normal people produce and share their own content—a trend that is already happening with the growth of Web 2.0 social technologies. Getting into a person’s mind and maintaining a good reputation is becoming more and more difficult than ever before. Companies are being forced to compete under different sets of rules and exposed practices that were unthinkable years ago.

According to Ivana Kalay (founder of SpinHunters, the first PR security company in the world), the tendencies show that many highly skilled black-hats (skilled information security hackers who pursue their interests illegally) will be hired by large enterprises to get into internal rival’s network and steal sensitive information. This information includes employee names, data with consumer complaints, and shareholder’ details. After profound professional analysis, this information will be used to create various communication plans to be used against the former owner.

Of course, none of the companies will make this type of confession. Black PR leads not only to the collapse of small/middle-sized business but also to the birth of a new black-hat hacker elite, which will be well funded and politically protected.


1. What are the black crafts of the digital age?

2. What does Black PR make use of to stay ahead in the black information market?

3. What do people in BPR rely on?

4. What is the main objective of BPR?

5. How does a BPR campaign start?

6. How is the gathered information used?

7. What has changed the entire communication blueprint?

8. What have the big corporations realized?

9. What do the modern tendencies in PR show?

10. What does sensitive information include?


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