PR- A Persuasive Industry?: Spin, Public Relations and the Shaping of the Modern Media

by Simon Goldsworthy, Trevor Morris

Palgrave Macmillan | October 15, 2008 | Hardcover

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Like it or loathe it, PR has become a key ingredient in our lives, but surprisingly little serious thought is given to what PR is and what its practitioners do. Glancing, usually disparaging references to PR abound, and journalists and others feel free to make overarching comments based on scant evidence, but PR remains under-examined and hard to study. The big PR firms remain shadowy, and by tradition PR people working within big organizations do not seek the limelight. If PR is an industry, it is a fragmented and diffuse one, scattered across all parts of the economy and society in thousands of small cells. In both the UK and the US, for example, the largest consultancies employ fewer than 1% of those who work in PR. Similarly even the largest companies have PR departments that rarely have more than a hundred staff and usually many fewer. PR also operates under many aliases – it seems that only a minority of practitioners like calling themselves public relations people – and its border territories with other communications and marketing disciplines are blurred and often disputed. This makes it difficult for outside observers and scholars to get to grips with PR, but also surprisingly hard for those working in PR to know their own business: no one individual has real experience of all the main areas of PR work.

PR people have represented all kinds of causes and interests, and have done so using all kinds of tactics. They have been associated with many sins: creating false pretexts for wars; political spin and skulduggery; and seeking to excuse the worst excesses of the corporate world, to the point of claiming that ‘Toxic sludge is good for you!’ But, equally, your favourite charity, celebrity, hospital and politician, as well as the innocuous companies you rely on to meet your day-to-day needs, use PR. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were all brilliant at public relations: Mandela still is. So, in their own ways, were Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein. Public relations is a strangely contradictory business. The authors explain some of those contradictions.

This book is essential reading not just for journalists, students and PR practitioners - whether they work in business, government or for NGOs - but for anyone concerned about the ingredients of the media they consume. The authors use a skilful blend of inside knowledge, experience and scholarship to explore this rapidly growing industry and reach new and challenging conclusions about the role PR is destined to play in the 21st century.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 9.55 × 6.42 × 0.73 in

Published: October 15, 2008

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0230205844

ISBN - 13: 9780230205840

Found in: Public Relations

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PR- A Persuasive Industry?: Spin, Public Relations and the Shaping of the Modern Media

by Simon Goldsworthy, Trevor Morris

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 9.55 × 6.42 × 0.73 in

Published: October 15, 2008

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0230205844

ISBN - 13: 9780230205840

Table of Contents

The Allure of PR * The Lying Game * PR: What exactly is it? * Why PR Cant be a Profession *
Girls and Gurus * PR and the Mass Media * PR and Academia * PR and Advertising * PR in the World of Business * The Shape of the Modern PR Industry * Money Matters * Specialist PR * PR and Politics * PR for Not-for-Profit Sector * Internal Communications * Where the PR industry is Heading

From the Publisher

Like it or loathe it, PR has become a key ingredient in our lives, but surprisingly little serious thought is given to what PR is and what its practitioners do. Glancing, usually disparaging references to PR abound, and journalists and others feel free to make overarching comments based on scant evidence, but PR remains under-examined and hard to study. The big PR firms remain shadowy, and by tradition PR people working within big organizations do not seek the limelight. If PR is an industry, it is a fragmented and diffuse one, scattered across all parts of the economy and society in thousands of small cells. In both the UK and the US, for example, the largest consultancies employ fewer than 1% of those who work in PR. Similarly even the largest companies have PR departments that rarely have more than a hundred staff and usually many fewer. PR also operates under many aliases – it seems that only a minority of practitioners like calling themselves public relations people – and its border territories with other communications and marketing disciplines are blurred and often disputed. This makes it difficult for outside observers and scholars to get to grips with PR, but also surprisingly hard for those working in PR to know their own business: no one individual has real experience of all the main areas of PR work.

PR people have represented all kinds of causes and interests, and have done so using all kinds of tactics. They have been associated with many sins: creating false pretexts for wars; political spin and skulduggery; and seeking to excuse the worst excesses of the corporate world, to the point of claiming that ‘Toxic sludge is good for you!’ But, equally, your favourite charity, celebrity, hospital and politician, as well as the innocuous companies you rely on to meet your day-to-day needs, use PR. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were all brilliant at public relations: Mandela still is. So, in their own ways, were Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein. Public relations is a strangely contradictory business. The authors explain some of those contradictions.

This book is essential reading not just for journalists, students and PR practitioners - whether they work in business, government or for NGOs - but for anyone concerned about the ingredients of the media they consume. The authors use a skilful blend of inside knowledge, experience and scholarship to explore this rapidly growing industry and reach new and challenging conclusions about the role PR is destined to play in the 21st century.

About the Author

TREVOR MORRIS is one of the UK''s most senior PR practitioners and since 2005 a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster, UK, where he teaches on a range of postgraduate and undergraduate programs. Formerly Morris was Chief Executive of Chime Communications Public Relations Group, the UK (and Europe)''s largest PR group, with some 250 employees. In nearly a quarter of a century in the industry he successfully built a major PR consultancy, worked for numerous major companies and government bodies and alongside most of the key players in contemporary PR. Morris has made countless TV, radio and newspaper appearances and  maintains a high profile within the industry .

SIMON GOLDSWORTHY is Senior Lecturer in Public Communication at the University of Westminster, UK. He established London''s first Master of Arts course in Public Relations and has since added the teaching of Public Relations to the University''s well-known undergraduate media studies program. He has lectured to international audiences, including Johns Hopkins University and at the Sorbonne. His civil service career included three years at the Central Office of Information and press office work for a number of Government departments. He has also worked as a PR consultant in the private sector.

Editorial Reviews

"At last a book on PR that doesn''t see it on the one hand as the work of Satan or on the other a branch of moral philosophy. It is hard hitting, honest and stimulating" Lord Tim Bell, Chairman of Chime Communications plc and former PR advisor to Prime Minister Thatcher "A clear, honest guide to all the nuts and bolts and some of the screw-ups of the industry that is subverting our news"  Nick Davies, award winning journalist and Author of ‘Flat Earth News’ “Energetic, sophisticated, witty and deadly serious: this important book dissects the role of PR in a novel and challenging way” Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, the University of Westminster "Every profession should have a book like this, a mirror crafted by experience and research, and one that shows a reflection that is provocative, insightful and fun" Gary Davies , Professor of Corporate Reputation, Manchester Business School "Too many books by PR people and PR academics are self-congratulatory or even dishonest. They describe what they would like PR to be, not how it is. Morris and Goldsworthy''s lively and controversial account changes this. It offers an indispensable insiders'' view of a burgeoning industry which looks set to play a crucial role in shaping the twenty-first century” Sheldon Rampton, co-author of ''Toxic Sludge is Good for You!'' and Research Director, Center for Media & Democracy, publishers of www.prwatch.org "A very readable summary of an oft-maligned,
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