Propaganda and the Public Relations Industry
Propaganda refers to any communication that aims at influencing the feelings of the members of a particular group towards something, Maloney R. (2006). In most cases, propaganda is usually meant to influence what people feel, think or say about something. It is specifically meant to alter the attitudes people have towards a particular thing. Public relations on the other hand is a field that involves itself with the maintenance of a good public image for high status people and profit making and non-profit making organizations.
Public relations is used by organizations to handle communication between the organization and both its internal and external publics, Bernays E. (2004). There are several public relations tools that are used by organizations to shape the opinions of the public about such organizations. These include advertising, publicity and any other means that can help them communicate with the public. Public relations is mostly done through buying space in the media through public relations agencies.There are several ways in which elites use propaganda and public relations to pursue their particular vested interests and to engineer the consent of the population in general through manipulation.
The elites in the society are mostly concerned with manipulating the opinions of the people in the society to fit their own interests. When trying to influence the opinions of the public, the elites in the society cause a lot of harm to their countries because they contribute to inequality in the distribution of power and wealth, Bernays E. (2004). The elites in the society make use of the media to communicate with the public with an aim of gaining power. The elites in the society can hire media personnel to publicize influential information that is meant to help them gain more profits. Due to concentration of wealth in the elites of the society only, there is conflict of interests among people in the community because the elites use propaganda to acquire more wealth.
Another way in which the elites of the society use propaganda and public relations to pursue their own vested interests is by controlling the media for their own benefit. They use the media to serve and communicate their interests to the public to influence them. The elites use propaganda and public relations to create a good relationship with the general public. Several techniques are used to by the elites to influence the public. These techniques include identifying the targeted audience and passing the influential message to them.
Another technique used is that using lobby groups to influence the most influential people in the government e.g. politicians for the benefit of the elites. Spin is another technique used by the elites to pursue their vested interests. This is a technique where the elites present information that they intend to influence the opinion of the public.
The movie “thank for smoking” talks about a lobbying in the tobacco industry in Washington. The movie shows how the tobacco industry works hard to prevent the senator from preventing them from selling harmful tobacco products. To prevent the selling of such harmful products, the senator wants all products to have labels so that the harmful products are wiped out of the market Reitman J. (2005). There is a lot of propaganda and public relations that is used in this movie.
The public relations officers in this movie for example Nick Naylor encourage the people to smoke by thwarting the efforts of those who are against smoking in the country. They would always provide arguments that would criticize the truth of the statements made by those who were against smoking thus making the people doubt whether smoking was a bad practice and hence, they ended up practicing smoking in the country. Nick Naylor, the famous tobacco lobbyist would even promise to buy tobacco to his son thus making people believe that smoking was good.Sociologically, the movie the tobacco lobbyists commit propaganda when they encourage people to smoke while knowing that smoking is harmful. They always make their arguments based on the links that do not show connection between smoking and harmful diseases like cancer.
When they provide such links which show that smoking is not harmful, they end up influencing people to smoke. The people in the tobacco industry use propaganda and public relations to change the opinions of people towards smoking. Although the senator warns the people against smoking, the tobacco industry lobbyists provide information that contradicts it hence leaving people torn between the two forces and with some deciding to use the tobacco products. The lobbyists claim that their research on the link between cancer and tobacco nicotine has found that the two are not related in any way Reitman J. (2005).
This makes people doubt the warning messages that are attached to the tobacco products and thus smoking.There are different techniques that Nick, the protagonist in the movie “thank you for smoking “uses for his propaganda and public relations. Spin is one the propaganda techniques that were used by Nick in the movie. Spin is usually a propaganda technique that is used in public relations and makes use of a lot of deceptive information to influence people change their opinion about something. Nick used spin in this movie and told people that they had done a research that had shown that there was no relationship between smoking and diseases like cancer.
The protagonist used spin as his technique of manipulating people to smoke. The protagonist puts a spin on cigarettes and persuades people to continue buying them.The other propaganda technique used by Nick in the movie thank you for smoking is that of lobbying. The protagonist is a tobacco lobbyist and he tries to influence the media personnel to publicize good information about cigarette smoking, Reitman J. (2005).
As the public relations representation in the tobacco industry, the protagonist is concerned with communicating to the public their research findings on the effects of tobacco smoking. The protagonist even goes ahead and gives out some bribe to make media personnel inform the public that there is no danger in smoking. Through lobbying, the protagonist also tries to influence the people by bribing a man who is affected by cancer so that people can know that smoking is not a bad habit, Reitman J. (2005)Selecting the targeted group and influencing their opinion is another technique used by the protagonist to encourage people to smoke. He has chosen on the young people and he gives them the work of encouraging people to smoke.
This is because he knows that the young must smoke and they would be a good group to influence the people to smoke. He even tells them that he can buy cigarette for his son and this makes them fell that smoking is good.