Sunday, December 9, 2007

Propaganda in America - Meet Edward Bernays (2/6)

Abuse and Self-abuse - PR and its USP, plausible deniability

I came across this article while doing research for my classic case study on Edward Bernays and his Torches of Freedom campaign. It was written by Richard Linning in 2004 and is published in the Journal of Communication Management.

In the article, Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee are - somewhat - credited with the creation of PR as an unethical spin business. This type of PR uses third party advocates to convey the messages of an organization without disclosing whom the third party is working for. Linning cites blogs and companies such as Raging Cow as the source of this spin.

What was most disenchanting about this article is that the author sates that the European Union has re-defined commercial speech as "all forms of communication seeking to promote either products, services o the image or he organisation to the final consumers and/or distributors."

In the United States, Public Relations speech has had some government protection when it is used by the organization to give out information. I think that in many cases, this speech should remain protected as corporate speech. If done correctly, and ethically, PR speech can be a benefit to society.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A need for diversity in other professions

"According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, blacks made up 3.3 percent of doctors in the United States in 2004. The percentage of Hispanics was even lower, 2.8 percent. Asians made up 5.7 percent," reported a New York Times article.

In the medical profession, there is a need for more minorities to become health professionals. Despite the fact that it is important to have a mix of cultures in medicine, the important thing about this story is that children are being taught diversity, and that they can really be anything they want to.

It is important to have diversity in professions, especially medicine, because it benefits those who are diverse in society. "Studies have shown that minority doctors are more likely to treat uninsured and low-income patients, and that diversity among doctors increases access to health care for the underserved," the article stated.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Communication and Culture

I really enjoyed Dr. Koji Fuse as our guest speaker. Despite what problems he said he had with English, I thought he spoke very well.

One thing that came up during our discussion of cultural taxonomies was that many of the scales produced stereotypes. When we are trying to compare different cultures or countries, or anything really, it is hard not to create stereotypes. Dr. Fuse made the point that creating stereotypes is part of how the brain works but it is important to understand that not everyone can be clumped into one category or another. I thought his ending was appropriate:

stereotype - a cognitive belief that we have

prejudice - an emotion based on stereotypes

discrimination - behaviors based on prejudices

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dealing with Diversity

In class, a lot of students told their accounts of having to deal with people who spoke a different language than them. With a growing minority of Spanish-Speaking people, I find that it is very difficult to figure out which language you are supposed to speak to them.

I work in a restaurant and in my experiences, many of the cooks and workers in the kitchen are Spanish-speaking. I have recently had one case in particular that was very confusing for me. When I first started working at my current restaurant, I was in the kitchen speaking with a cook in Spanish about how I studied Spanish in Spain for five weeks and have studied the language in school for many years. I got a promotion to a position that works directly with the cooks and food preparation. This position requires frequent communication with the cooks, all of which are Spanish-speaking. They also speak English, but as it is their second language, some speak it better than others. Just after I had gotten my new position, I was communicating in Spanish with the cook who was previously mentioned and he stopped me. "Do you speak English?" he asked me in English. I was dumbstruck for a second because obviously I speak English. I said yes and he replied "I do, too."

Apparently he did not like me talking to him in Spanish. Although he sometimes says things to me in Spanish now, and many of the other Spanish-Speaking employees talk to me in Spanish as well. It is confusing because I do not know which language I should speak to them in. Sometimes they do not understand when I say things in English, but catch on a lot quicker in Spanish. I do not want them to think that I am rude by speaking to them in Spanish, but I have studied the language for many years and lived with a woman who only speaks Spanish in Spain.

Some people, including some Spanish-speakers, think that because we are in America, everyone should know how to speak English. But in reality, this is not the case. Hopefully time will ease the awkwardness of these types of experiences.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Diversity in the Workplace

In the case of Booz Allen, I think that steps or programs for a diverse environment can increase communication in an organization. In the Web site, it stated that coworkers could finally support gay and lesbian coworkers because of the program. Tensions between coworkers could be eased by being open about differences. I also think that it is a great way to attract employees or clients because the company promotes diversity.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Torches of Freedom

In 1928, the President of the American Tobacco Company hired Edward L. Bernays to create an ad/pr campaign for Lucky Strikes cigarette's. Back then, the adverse effects of smoking were not known and Bernays' campaign was a success. The campaign featured posh women smoking Luck Strikes in the streets. By today's standards, however, the campaign would not be considered moral or ethical. It followed the utilitarianism perspective of the greatest "good" for the greatest number of people.