I have a lot of reasons to share this article and raise this question.
For one, I've been mulling a book or at least an in-depth essay on how "the news" is made and how people can separate the wheat from the chaff. I think a primer is needed.
For another, I argue about politics. A lot. I used to do it for fun, and now I do it because I'm actually worried about the state of the world. Maybe I'm doing it wrong?
And for a third - and for the purpose of this post - I am (selfishly?) concerned that propaganda - the dark arts of misinformation and manipulation - is degrading the PR profession/industry/craft I've spent my life learning, practicing and developing around the world.
Forget for a moment that the article below references specific countries or political figures, which may make it hard for some to read beyond.
It's increasingly obvious that lots of people with different agendas are using influence techniques for purposes that are not always clear or consensual, regardless of whether they're "right". Technology and psychology are being mixed in potent combinations and delivered globally in unmarked containers to an unknowing public.
And this, I believe, is dangerous for the global PR community.
We have worked hard to bring a basic level of common agreement on ethical standards of practice, built on assumptions of honesty, disclosure and accountability.
Cynics will find comfort in some of the grayer areas, but in general the PR community has moved itself and the organisations it serves somewhat beyond "spin" toward something closer to engagement with stakeholders to find mutual understanding and expectations. Or at least we strive to.
We are being set back years - decades - by the kinds of distortions and manipulations we're seeing today.
Not good for society, and definitely not good for us in the PR business.
Next month I'll be in Geneva to join an international panel to look at what, if anything, can be done. Can trade and professional bodies like the PRCA, CIPR or PRSA do anything?
Or is the genie out of the bottle for good?
Got ideas? Love to hear them.
Telling people that something they’ve heard is wrong may be one of the most pointless things you can do.