In recent years public relations has become increasingly important in the era of neoliberalism. Due to contemporary developments in the ownership and control of the media, it narrows space for free debate after these changes.
Public relations are a central concern of governments, businesses, trade unions and even the smallest of protest groups. By having a good public relations team it allows all the different social groups to get their message out to the public in the way that they want to. Free media functions as a watchdog for actions that are put into place by the government and other such organisations as it allows a variety of opinions to be put forward to the public. French theorist Jean Baudrillard explores the theory that we consume what objects stand for rather than the objects themselves and their function. (1968)
However, the Marxist theory sees media as a class control and that information given to the public is ‘reproduced by media and indoctrinated.’ (Curran and Seaton 1995, chapter 10) When analysing the sources of information given to the media, they are given in a structured preference so that only the only news that is given to the public has already been managed so that promotes the client in a positive light. This is referred to as a ‘structuralist’ an objectively becomes a primary definer of the media. From a Marxist point of view it can be seen that managing news is the same as exercising power in society.
Public relations have become very important in recent years, especially for business, governments and particularly at times of crisis. Walter Lippmann said that ‘persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government. (1921: 158)
Officials in public relations became a big factor in the 1970’s, and since then many developments have been made in the use of promotional resources; however there are still inequalities to this day:
- Financial and personnel budgets – allow more money to invest in staff and long term support from PR companies.
- Institutional security – which depends on organisation within a company
- Culture – the progress of promotion depends on the perception of others.
On the basis of unequal distribution of resources we can define groups as ‘resource poor’ or ‘resource rich’. (Goldenberg 1975)
Although promotional culture is increasing in sophistication, it seems that systems such as ‘lobbying’, where unattainable briefings are reported to allow room for misinformation, decrease the reliability of sources. The commercialisation of government public relations also makes news untrustworthy due to manipulation of stories.
- Albertazzi, D and Cobley, P (2010) The Media. An Introduction Chapter 8
- Baudrillard, J (1968)
- Curran. J and Seaton. J (1995) Power Without Responsibility 4th Edition.
- Goldenberg. E (1975) – Making the Papers: the access of poor resource groups to the Metropolitan Press.
- Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies Texts, Products and Context chapter 13
- Lippmann. W (1921) Public Opinion New York Press