Saturday, 2 April 2011

Political PR

Political communicators are often accused of serving more to the political interests of smaller groups of people rather than the interest of the general public and civil society. It would be unreasonable to argue that these allegations are completely groundless, but political PR is not only about spin and propaganda.

Political PR professionals are criticized for trying to control the information that gets out and for twisting the message to ensure that the government interests are served. However as they are dealing with confidential information and issues the public is extremely sensitive about, a full disclosure of information may easily provoke crisis. On the one hand PR professionals should strive to meet the public expectations for greater transparency, but on the other hand managing political communications requires careful planning when sensitive issues are concerned. In certain situations when for example the nation’s security is endangered, the public right of information might not be political communicators’ top priority.

Although journalists often accuse political communicators for twisting the truth or hiding important facts it is hard to believe that their personal judgment on the political performance is completely impartial. However their role of mediators between the general public and politician is important for maintaining the balance in the political system. During his work as Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell tried to undermine journalists’ ability to influence the government communications by introducing a weekly webcast for direct communication with the audience and by carefully avoiding giving the word to journalists who might ask difficult questions during the press conferences. His actions has seriously damaged political PR’s reputation and contributed to the building of its negative image – view shared by journalists and citizens.

Despite the fact that people perceive Political PR as a form of modern propaganda and manipulation, it could considerably improve the communication process between the government and the public. PR’s goal is to build trust and improve the relationships based on mutual understanding in order to enhance the effectiveness of the political performance which is beneficial for all the citizens.

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