PR disasters of 2013

Lists are an unfailing source of media coverage, discussion and sometimes even debate. Someone somewhere is always excited by lists from best-dressed to the most powerful lists. Lists of best books and best films are even sometimes very useful although what is often best about them are subsequent exposures of undisclosed links between recommender and recommended. read more

What gets lost

One of the key characteristics of constitutional structures which divide responsibilities and funding sources is an enormous capacity to shift costs and political blame for unpopular decisions.

In Australia the Abbott Governments Commission of Audit is allegedly going to address these issues although one suspects the outcome will be a series of ideologically-driven recommendations masquerading as efficiency proposals which will cut back government services while preserving subsidies for business and industry. read more

Taking a break

The blog is taking a break and hopes its readers have a nice one too. In the meantime – some odds and sods to go on with until the New Year.

The joys of Yiddish

One of the blog’s favourite reference books is Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish. The book is part dictionary, part encyclopaedia, part compendium of great Jewish jokes and part cultural anthropology. read more

Train wreck to be averted?

Regular readers will be familiar with the blog’s posts about the problems of replicability in social psychology research and the warnings by Nobel Laureate,Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) that the field had to get its act together or experience a train wreck.

For communicators the social psychology research on how people make choices, how they think and what motivates them, has probably been the most profound insight into how to frame communications in many years. For social marketers in particular the work has provided a new foundation for campaigns which hopefully will replace the crude, and largely ineffectual, programs run by so many governments in the past at the urgings of the health thought police. read more

Tony Abbott and the Reformation

As a good Catholic Tony Abbott probably doesn’t think too much of the Reformation but  reading a recent chapter in a forthcoming book made the blog think about some similarities between the Abbott Government’s first months and the Church’s response to the Protestant revolution.

The chapter is Power, control and religious language: Latin and vernacular contests in the Christian Medieval and Reformation periods. It’s written by Professor Peter Horsfield (a friend from RMIT) and will appear in the forthcoming Religion, media and social change (Routledge) edited by Kenneth Granholm, Marcus Moberg and Sofia Sjo. Peter’s chapter is about “Language (as) a fundamental component of communication and therefore a fundamental component of in the formation of individual and social identities, the shape of social knowledge, the functioning of social relationships and the constructions and contests of social power.” read more

PR and dissent

These days if your revolution has failed to get out of the cafes where you have plotted with your comrades; your cause has failed to prosper; or your political party has just lost, the next best thing to blaming the media or the forces of reaction is to blame the PR industry

The blog has experienced a few of these but has, probably unsurprisingly, never blamed the PR industry for the failures. Yet increasingly a number of PR academics and practitioners are becoming the leaders in analysing how PR is used as either an activist or repressive tool. read more

Dog days and political leadership

The recent tweets about Indonesia by Liberal pollster, Mark Textor, say quite a lot about the current internal culture of political parties and highlight much of interest about public policy in Ross Garnaut’s new book Dog Days: Australia After the Boom.

For those few who may not have seen it Textor tweeted “Apology demanded from Australia by a bloke who looks like a 1970s Pilipino (sic) porn star and has ethics to match.” Textor also threw in some comments about Fairfax media being involved in ‘appeasement’ consistent with the News Corp and Liberal belief that the problem is not the spying but the fact that the media disclosed it. read more

PR and post modernism

The problem with irony is that if it is sufficiently dead pan, and readers are sufficiently literally-minded, the irony can get lost.

Some 20 years ago the blog wrote an article for IPRA Review (1993 16 (3)) asking whether PR was the first post-modern profession. At the time the blog had been reading a lot of Umberto Eco, not just the novels but also the semiotics work and his collection of essays Faith in Fakes. The latter basically focussed on how in a post-modern world for many people the fake was more real than the real. Eco also talked a lot about how perceptions shaped reality. read more