“The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”
That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?
Propaganda, I believe, gets a bad rap. Of course propaganda doesn’t allow two-way communication, that is not what it is meant for. Studiers of communication theory learn about many different ways to communicate. Propaganda is one of them. Is it right? That’s a difficult question to answer. I believe that there are certain instances where propaganda can be fruitful, and ways it can be damaging.
Edward Bernays, the man known as the “Father of public relations” was a fan of propaganda. What he was against was, which I would believe the majority of people are, is what he called “impropaganda”. Bernays believed this to be “using propaganda techniques not in accordance with good sense, good faith, or good morals.”
Now if we looked at the Merriam-Webster definition of propaganda, which is in the beginning of the article, we can see that the sentence covers both propaganda and impropaganda. Whereas the former would be spreading information and “helping” while the latter fulfills the “injuring.”
So when we hear the terms ‘NObama’, ‘Obamacare’, ‘Teabaggers’, ‘Death Tax’, ‘Checkbook tax’, so forth and so on, is that simply political chatter?
Or simply propaganda? Or impropaganda?
A Single Message
Propaganda can be effective because it gets behind a single message, for a specific period of time, to a specific audience. It consistently pushes out information centered around one line of thought. It pays no regard to any feedback, and continues until it gets the message across.
When Propaganda is Used
If used at all, it should be used carefully. Due to the “womp womp” attitude surrounding the word, propaganda can only be heard in the hallways and classrooms of universities and institutions, or if accessible, government chambers.
Why is this post even necessary, you may be asking if you have gotten this far. People (even communicators, even though they learned this) are afraid to touch this issue. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the negative connotation is enough to scare away even the bravest and biggest thought leader in marketing and public relations. Or, maybe they are afraid to showing light to what businesses and political machines are doing.
But then again, maybe not.
In any case, I would advise you to continue to keep your mind on a swivel. Continue thinking for yourself and questioning everything you see. Ask why certain businesses or organizations engage in certain things.
Marketing and communicating is fun, and it can be even more exciting once both our audience and communicators wake up.