Communication, Critical Thinking, Education, and Research: A Society Captured in the ‘PR’ Outlook

April 28, 2023
When I researched for an image, for this blog, I found this one below, one of three images, in my paid account provided for my business, which came up with the three results with the research phrase, “capture public relations”. This image is an excellent illustration of the problem-at-hand.   Featured Image: Public Relations campaign […]

When I researched for an image, for this blog, I found this one below, one of three images, in my paid account provided for my business, which came up with the three results with the research phrase, “capture public relations”. This image is an excellent illustration of the problem-at-hand.

 

Featured Image: Public Relations campaign infographic template designed as military map. Great for PR reports and presentations. Illustration 62249858 © Msokolyan | Dreamstime.com

 

 

This is my business, not the public relations (‘PR’) campaign, but to educate the world on what has become of the world in the ‘PR’ outlook. This is nothing new in principles. We can look back to the “American Way” of the 1950s, or go back to Madison Avenue of the 1920s. My colleagues will point to examples in the late nineteenth century, or antecedent from early modern or ancient times. Nevertheless, from generation to generation each person too often forgets the patterns of history, or worse still, has no education of the history.

 

 

Before dissecting the worldview outlook, I have to disclose how I came to be thinking of the historical pattern. There was an online conversant in my digital world who will remain nameless. I can speak out, but I do not expect the necessity for any other reader. My friend sent out a post telling her world that she (apologies, if the gender specific offends; but I cannot repeat ‘the person’ over and over again) will be leaving a job in communications at a prestigious university, and asked if anyone was interested in the vacated position. I politely declined, and said, …

 

 

No thanks. I was a researcher for three VCs at Melbourne, a decade and more ago, where the job was basically communications. I love my extensive travels in the past few years. I am not retired, but as a professional historian, not paid for his work because we have society conditioned in the PR nonsense, which says you do not need research and any opinion is equal to another, and why should I pay a professional researcher to research, write, and publish in the humanities and social science; especially when I just want my opinion of the bubble thinking, and no one else’s ‘bullshit’.

 

 

 

This framing provides a particular textual or image analysis. There is truly ‘bullshit’, as a metaphor in education, and as a philosophical concept; ask Harry G. Frankfurt. The key thought here is the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false. In the world of communications, marketing, and public relations, the critical sense one can have — reading beyond appearance and the surface thinking — is there is no care for what is true or false. The problem is not perspectivism; this reference to ‘perspective’ is a deflecting and very false argument. I have demonstrated this in my concept mapping below with my previous article.

 

 

 

or…aesthetically designed slightly differently but the exactly the same point.

 

 

 

 

 

What you see in my concept mapping is what is missing in the ‘PR’ map. Examine the map again, and to help, I’ll reinsert it below.

 

 

 

 

What immediately captures the eye is that it is designed in military form. There is the too-highly focused warrior thinking which cuts too much out; a process of dumbing down. Secondly, with targets there is the thinking in the utility which usually accompanied by a reductive cost-benefit analysis. Here is where the economics goes terribly astray for any life valuing, except to reduce the human to a machine. If you wish to live life in that mechanical utilitarianism, be my guest, but the bulk of humanity wishes to remain human.

 

 

 

Thirdly, the outlook which the concept map depicts goes to the opinion-makers, in so far as they are the relevant decision-makers. That in itself is sensible, but where is public opinion? I am a blogger but the missing factor, as a blogger, are the dissenting voices, out there, who are upset with what I have to say. I get angry with everyone else…and myself…but I hear no honest voices (apart from my own family members) who reason out their thinking, to put me in my place. I rather that, than the great Australian silence I experience (and, no, I am not indigenous to this country).

 

 

Reputation is an important key element in the concept map. However, whose reputation are we talking about? The institution? or the person? One would like to think that one does not have to choose. It is too often not the case in today’s universities, and one is played off the other. Reputation becomes a game, not a genuine valving. In that light, ‘responsibility’, ‘loyalty’, and ‘friendship’ (eco or otherwise) are loaded terms, never honesty explained. As in my previous article and concept map, the public relations perspective fails because it ignores all other stages of thinking in a full and comprehensive history, philosophy, and education.

 

 

What is the skewed reasoning from all of this public relations thinking? Best Brand, Useful, Comfortable. If a person cannot see the problem here, they are lost to reasonable standards of education. Comfortable Numb? Useful to who? Am I just a tool? And what is the ‘best’ hope we can expect from brand commercialism? To all questions, the answer is not much, a reduction in what is missing in the thinking.

 

There is an educationalist history, which I and my colleagues write and publish much. The question is whether it is publicly read? What I am suggesting is that the wider public relations outlook has not helped, and has, in many cases, hindered the message getting out. The message is the global decline of education, in many different measures and valuing, and that we should not simply read this blog, but be part of the solution.

 

 

 

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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.
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