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Re: Design and public opinion - fully on topic

From: James Souttar <ancient-AT-urizen.com>
Date: 10 Aug 2001 19:11:03 UTC   (08:11:03 PM in author's locale)
To: "The Graphics List" <graphics-AT-lists.graphicslist.org>
Greg:

>Here is a real-life example of a group hiring communicators with the goal of
>shaping an opinion. A PR firm from NYC has been hired, and they are pursuing
>a campaign effort that involves multiple media avenues. It may be
>interesting to note, in this case, that posters and printed advertisments
>would be just a piece of the whole puzzle. This firm is even making
>recommendations to their client (the country, of course) to do things like
>paint their rubber bullet-firing weapons orange as a cue to the world
>watching media coverage that these are not live-firing weapons.
>
>PRIMER: Just a thought, but if there would be any discussion about this
>particular example, perhaps discussing the theory of strategy may be a more
>worthwhile discussion than discussing whether or not the pr firm could be
>successful in their efforts "because I feel this way or that about the
>issue".
>
>Relevant, at least...


Thanks for that, it was really interesting. Actually, what it made me
realize is how effective the oil companies' PR campaign against Kyoto
must have been in *hardening* popular opinion within the US, given
the differences of opinion we've seen here over the last few days.
But I don't particularly want to open that up again. (In any case,
it's miraculous how we're all prepared to believe that communications
are extremely effective in shaping *other people's* opinions).

But both the recent US and British Elections show how little effect
communications actually have in *changing* anyone's point of view.
Here, for instance, the polls hardly flickered through the campaign
(and were confirmed by the result) despite perhaps the most
sophisticated media offensives this country has ever seen. What the
PR, advertising and other initiatives did, though, was to 'preach to
the choir' - making convinced conservatives more angry about Europe,
convinced new-labourites more determined to keep them from regaining
power. However when it came the undecided, most of them decided that
they couldn't be bothered to decide. Communications are thus becoming
paradoxical - the more we're subjected to this barrage of corporate
and political messages, more and more of us are turned off by
corporations and politicians. I guess this is just another instance
of 'acquired resistance' that we see at every level from the viral
upwards.

James


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