Corporations using PR to manipulate emotions

I saw a television commercial recently extolling the virtues of the gas and oil industry as they are going green. I also saw one from the coal industry telling me that today is a new day in the clean coal industry.

Both of these ads are produced by groups that represent the interests of the corporations which make their money from oil, gas and coal. They reminded me of a public relations playbook I read a while back. It was designed to protect the tobacco companies back in the day when they were fighting anything that would cut back people smoking. The chapters went something like this: distract people from the real problem; generate fear; split communities with rhetoric; pit one group against another; encourage people to doubt scientific conclusions; question whether there really is a problem; and say one thing in public while working secretly to do the opposite.

I think this practice is still going on. Just think about it: affordable health care, gun safety, voter suppression, tax reform, the national debt, consumer protection, environmental issues, worker rights – all have been attacked by using the playbook. The corporations being adversely affected will usually keep their distance. They get third parties to step in.

The message is to always look behind any public argument to see how your emotions are being manipulated. That is what PR people do best, you can count on it. Beware of anyone or any group that claims to be part of the solution.

Don Sprinkle