(3BL Media/Justmeans) - This, I believe, is how societal change occurs. Even big changes happen a little bit at a time, unseen, below the surface, until suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a big movement makes news.
The biggest influencers in our society are business, government, and the media. The movement towards increased transparency, facilitated by the media and the tremendous growth of the Internet, has forced business and government to become more responsive to prevailing opinion.
Sitting at the intersection of all these factors are the public relations firms. Founded after the second world war by Edwin Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the fledgling science of PR was based on the discovery that men and women, when making decisions, are generally influenced more by “unconscious fears and desires” than they are by facts. The exploitation of this discovery and the subsequent growth of the advertising industry has been a key driver of the American economy as consumers were led down a road that took them from buying what they need to buying what they want.
With the revelation of mankind’s role in destabilizing the Earth’s climate system surfacing, PR firms often found themselves on both sides of the issue, helping their clients promote whatever perspective was in their self-interest. But with the increasing level of transparency required of companies today, executives are finding themselves held accountable for the impact of not only their own actions, but those of their suppliers and their clients.