Where Does PR Turn Back to Propaganda ?
After so much intensive Media coverage of ‘The Environment’ these past few years, it’s now practically unconscious knowledge that Environmentalism isn’t just a politically leveraged social phenomenon anymore, but also a widespread market desire that affects all sorts of behavior and buying decisions. Of course ‘desire’ is what drives all markets, so it’s of no surprise that our Environmental issues have now also become potent market forces as well. Forces that can be developed and even exploited, as is the case with any other market driven desire.
This is the same type of social energy that was first harnessed and developed during Wartime to mobilize home-front efforts, and other industrial objectives by visionaries like Edward Bernays, who were later enlisted to change the face of Mass Marketing by applying psychological theory to social behavior (thanks in part to his Uncle Sigmund Freud) . It was also during this time that the methods of Propaganda were quietly renamed as “Public Relations”, to give them a more palatable (Post-Nazi) public image. As such, if we can accept that modern mass marketing methods had their roots in the principals of propaganda, then it would be easier to see how the Environmental movement represents the greatest PR opportunity we’ve ever seen, and from there we can survey the Future of Environmentalism with abit more clarity…
So what’s to be gained from Environmental PR Efforts…
Who knows what the Future brings, right?
Some things, like the clear need to reduce consumption and toxic emissions, are clear and certain. Other things like the net value of offsetting carbon-taxes, or the energy savings of compact fluorescent bulbs (CFB’s) traded against the costs of safely disposing of their toxic contents are abit more difficult to quantify in easy terms. So the smart money get;s in and out of positions before the bigger questions can be answered. Such loaded questions are what compel people to try and make a few speculative bucks by placing bets in the markets, based on factors and information that can help determine the unknown with greater accuracy, and yield better results on the bottom line.
This is where things get interesting. What if those speculative bets are in industrial sectors that could benefit from PR and advertising for growth as well? What if certain market needs and desires could be cultivated to further those “green” interests? After all, it’s just unconscious common knowledge that since Environmentalism surpassed itself as cultural phenomenon long ago, it’s now become a rich source of social and political leverage. Most people either just see current Eco-marketing campaigns as some dirty company trying to ‘greenwash’ itself, or others wishing to raise funds, or at least cash in on a trend.
So what if the Eco messages that are being packaged to drive the demand start becoming abit too crass or self-righteous in their methods?
It didn’t take long to become desensitized to violence, and this risk is much more deadly in it’s subtlety.
Yet how how we avoid such human traits, first be recognizing them when we see them, and then pointing to the elephant to see if anybody else knows that it’s there!
Environmental applications for just about any product or service have been spun up into impending breakthroughs or indispensable needs for those who wish to show that they “truly care” about the environment. This trend towards Enviro-PR is meant to tap into our collective need to at least feel moderately self-satisfied, if not too self righteous about our contributions to a greater good. Hopefully without becoming indignant or even morally outraged by anyone else who hasn’t already subsribed themselves to similar views. In short, our desire to do right be the Environment has been cultivated into a market need. Though it starts as a natural desire, it quickly becomes amplified via the many sources of mediated marketing which in turn affect the choices we make everyday, and the outlook that we project on others. This has effectively creeated a highly motivate market force that others can mass-market to for social and political gains and/or profit. Within social circles, what is created by marketign and PR Pro’s has become a point of leverage for determining social standing based on moral, ethical, and cultural views…Which is where things start to get even more interesting!