Monday, February 9, 2009

One nasty thing about public relations: it often distorts knowledge

Public relations are dominated by a corporate personality. The objective is to communicate the credibility of an organization; you are judged by how well you do that.

If it takes it, you will tear down the credibility of another to protect your client's credibility. You are a corporate entity.

All these steroid stories coming out of the national pastime remind me of this. Baseball fans and media-types tearing down the steroid users. The steroid users trading the names of scapegoats to save theirs. The Roger Clemens public battle was especially brutal.

I wish we'd stop playing a purity game on these athletes. I wish men like Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez would come out and talk about their use -- their motivations, their fears, the effects, would they advise others use? Knowledge like this, created in an environment of empathy and trust rather than demonization and shame, would be invaluable.

Instead, the public uses morals to decide its judgment. And the men and the organizations hire marketing teams to create environments around them intended to portray themselves as moral. All the while, this moral outrage obscures the chance for new knowledge.

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