Public Relations as Consciousness Raising

When people of a certain age hear the term “consciousness-raising,” what often comes to mind is Stewart Brand and The Whole Earth Catalog, Vietnam war protests, transcendental meditation, Greenwich Village and Berkeley; Timothy Leary, tie dye tee shirts, peace signs and the Moody Blues.








When I think of consciousness-raising, however, I think of it as the primary function and value of public relations. Given that factor and current political and business climate, I decided to update the consciousness-raising concept as a call to arms for the PR industry and developed a piece for the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

In its own words, the IPRA “aims to further the development of open communication and the ethical practice of public relations.” I couldn’t agree more with those objectives. In an era of insensitive and often demeaning discourse, public relations practitioners must stand firm in furthering ethical and civil communications.

Today, the marketplace is being influenced by the candor of our political environment in a way unbefitting to reliable and effective communications. Yet, the old saw still applies; all organizations need their market’s goodwill to achieve their goals. Why go out of the way to offend or alienate?

This is where we come in, as communications pros, and this is my call to action. It is our role to remain cognizant of and plan for our organization’s language and behavior to strike just the right tone, messages, context, resonance, and with a view of the big picture.

For the same reason that it is important to teach our children to be polite and sensitive for the feelings of others, public relations professionals must stand their ground in their example and insistence on the lessons of thoughtful discourse. In our business lives, egocentric, rude, hyper-partisan, hostile and demeaning communications are simply not professional and cannot be allowed to rule the day.

Public Relations may be the only department or discipline that prioritizes the public reputation and values of a brand. In the years ahead, that may be our biggest responsibility and contribution; the promotion of a civil society during a brief period of unrest, anger and hostility.

Read the full article on the IPRA website:





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