Kent State’s ever quotable Dr. Bob Batchelor just gave his “Is PR Evil?” lecture and posted about five minutes of it on Facebook. He says, “yes, PR is evil.”
I disagree. The majority are thousands of practitioners working every day to conduct themselves ethically, and represent their organizations accurately as they support business objectives. To say, as Dr. B. does, that failure to enthusiastically fight the gender gap is evidence of evil, diminishes evil. Al-Qaeda is evil. Bernie Madhoff is evil.
There are myriad reasons for the gender gap, and sexism does not account for them all, as this report from Education International explains. I do not doubt that pay equity is a problem in many cases, but singling out the PR industry’s perceived inaction as evil is a gross oversimplification.
Dr. B. says that whenever he interacts with a corporation, he winds up using words like diabolical, Satanic, wicked, bad, dark, sinister, infernal, unholy, ugly, vile, slimy… Really? Every corporation? What is your point, sir? That corporations are evil? That only government can save us from their rapacious ways? Right. Because government is so pure!
If any part of the PR industry might meet Dr. Batchelor’s description, it’s political PR. Politics requires the basest elements of press agentry — a willingness to misrepresent at best, to ignore objective truth, to lie if necessary. It’s a bipartisan effort that leaves citizenry contemplating polar versions of events, perspectives and paths.
Witness the discussion on national health insurance — it’s a right, it’s an assault on liberty, it’s an expensive boondoggle, it’s a money-saver, it’s a requirement for a just civilization, it’s a violation of the Constitution.
How about tax policy? It’s fairness for the rich to pay more, because they can afford it. It’s wrong for nearly half the people to pay no taxes at all. It’s Robin Hood economics, it’s essential to our way of life, it allows us to rebuild the middle class, it’s a zero-sum cash grab that makes government more powerful…
And so on.
The political machine cares only about the perpetuation of government, and they fight over who gets to run things. By the way, government creates no wealth at all. It exists at the sufferance of those who work in the private sector, and relies entirely on its ability to collect money from the private sphere. That’s not a political statement. It’s a fact.
At least business has a transparent mission: to make money for its owners, which means those of us working for and with business have a transparent mission as well – to help the organizations attain their business objectives. This does not argue for an absolute lack of regulation, however. Even Adam Smith believe business needed to be properly regulated. So you won’t find me demanding an end to food safety, clean water and many other regulations, which, of course, marks me as an apostate among my more conservative friends.
If anything, it’s political PR that sets out business issues in black and white terms, supported by governmental regulatory schema. Businesses are cast as the enemy, business people as the scourge of the earth.
Now, what is evil?