PR boils down to manipulation of public opinion that can't be traced back to the source easily.
They are also used for things that would be too dirty / illegal to touch for a company itself, like fake reviews and fake online comments propagating a certain view.
I have long thought that there should be a public registry where you have to announce when and for what purpose you have hired a PR firm.
One would think that a business whose noble mission is to connect the world wouldn't be in need of such marketing.
I also dislike marketing. It is manipulation that mostly works on a subconscious level, circumventing your rational thought.
But with marketing, at least it's obvious who the source is, and you can make a conscious effort to avoid it.
With PR, where pushing highly biased news articles on various news outlets is common, it's much harder.
That's ridiculous. Marketing has much broader meaning than you might think and it might be valuable activity giving information and sensible desire to the potential customers.
Also you are manipulating the minds of others by posting a comment here.
The claim marketing "manipulating the minds of others" is just flat out pointless.
For example, take the "community manager" role that is popular in some companies. This is a full on marketing role. The goal is to create good feelings about the product and build a community that people want to join around it. However, I don't see anything wrong with that per se. In fact, in many niche markets (craft beer is a good example), the community manager tries to promote the entire industry (to be fair, in the craft beer industry, converting the average mega beer drinker to craft beer is good for business). Often, these people are working 100% in concert with the desires of the consumer.
Also having to do with beer (hmmm... coincidence?), if you've ever spent time in the UK you know about the Weatherspoon pub chain. It is a massive company, with pubs everywhere. It undercuts the prices of the local, independent pubs and provides a kind of homogenised experience. But, good grief it does a good job. Every pub has an amazing selection of real ale in good condition -- sometimes at half the price of competing pubs. They have real ale and cider "festivals" and promote small breweries. They lobby the government for lower taxes on beer and work with the rest of the industry to create desirable business conditions for pubs (against the rising tide of cafes, wine bars and clubs). They save listed buildings and turn them into interesting venues. It's all of these actions that makes you think, "I just can't be against these guys, even if I want to support small independent pubs". I often wonder where the pub industry in the UK would be without Weatherspoons.
So I think it's possible to take your job as a marketing person and use it as an opportunity to do something good (at least from some people's perspective) when it aligns with your interests. When you get it really right, I think you start working very hard to find those opportunities and ideally concentrate on them exclusively. I'm even going to go so far as to say that it's not necessarily marketers who make this a very rare occurrence. I suspect doing something like that would be a dream job for many people. I think the normal marketing job is really the reality imposed upon them by the business. The business, as a whole, is not interested in making the world a better place. They are interested in making as much money as possible.
As a closing thought, I've often considered how wonderful a job in marketing or sales could be. What better job than to find someone that needs your product and introduce them to it? How amazing would it be to see people who are suffering and to think, "Hey, if they used our product instead, their life would be a lot better"? Instead, sales people are told, "Hey, we know our product sucks, but it's your job to sell it anyway. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. As long as we cut out our competitors, it doesn't matter how bad our product is. The customer will have to buy from us." It's that dynamic that makes marketing and sales a job from hell.
I prick up my ears when people start to talk about criminalizing speech.
And if only PR firms are regulated/criminalized, FB or whatever can still operate their own PR team. Then what is the point of the law?
Sounds like another unnecessary bullshit government regulation possibly harassing the freedom of speech on the internet.
I’m not clear on what the motives are, but it feels Orwellian that we now have news stories that smear people for telling the truth. I guess some anti-Semites don’t like George Soros, so the reasoning is that any criticism or even mention of George Soros must be anti-Semitic.
I’d like to hear some coherent refutation to this. Why is this story at all controversial when Soros did, in fact, fund FB critics? I’ll entertain any reasons other than, “Nazis.”
1. Their focus was Soros. They were criticised, and they essentially said "we haven't done anything wrong that needs to be addressed, he must have another motive for criticising us, find out if he's going to get rich from this somehow". They set out to attempt to discredit Soros, for the crime of criticising them.
2. Having failed to find a financial motive, they did discover that he was funding a FB pressure group (which you might expect of a wealthy critic). That was then used to smear the group, among the people for whom "is funded by Soros" is an effective smear.
3. Many of the people appealed to in (2) are anti-semitic. It's why the smear works. It's therefore an anti-semitic act to use Soros as a smear in this way.
In sum: they used their financial power to attack a critic of theirs with an ad hominem smear that had an anti-semitic basis. That's not the act of a laudable organisation. It's a controversial act.
Soros funded smear groups focused on Facebook. Facebook responding in kind doesn’t strike me as better or worse than what Soros did. Bringing antisemitism into it is a stretch.
No, Facebook critics are saying that FB was OK with undermining its critics at all costs, even if that meant dogwhistling for anti-Semitic trolls.
I'll repeat something I posted in my other comment: Do you believe that George Soros is also actively behind a campaign to destroy Tesla ? Reveal has received money through Soros's Open Society Foundations .
Perhaps I’m being naive but I see two Jewish business leaders fighting a proxy war — and yet one is called antisemitic and one is not. And I suspect it’s because people are only attacking the side they disagree with politically.
Edit: looks like some Soros money was sloshing around in there, but the primary funding was from elsewhere.
Their act was a dog whistle because it was done with the intent of discrediting Soros (to protect Facebook from his criticisms), and the main way it could achieve that was by appealing to the anti-semites.
There was so much else that FB did wrong (Stamos admitted in his WaPo opinion piece that Sheryl was upset at him for telling the board about Russia and that PR pieces about that were obfuscated). Why is the media so focused on what seems to me to be a routine investigation which even they engage in? This just doesn't seem like a winning argument to me.
That's ridiculous. Every antisemite eats, does that make eating antisemitic? Most people on the right don't like when Soros pays for protestors. 75% of Orthodox Jews support Trump. Most of whom I assume disagree with Soros. Are they also antisemitic?
Well no that’s not really the story.
The story is really that FB hired a PR agency to dig up dirt to personally attack a FB critic, and tried to hide the truth that they were behind the PR campaign targeting an individual. Further, Zuckerburg publicly denied it.
The story is about FB coming clean, that they did hire a political consulting firm to discredit a FB critic, and acknowledge FB later falsely claimed they didn’t do what they in fact did.
Is it not scary to you a Company like FB would, under shield on anonymity, hire a PR firm to publicly discredit someone? And you don’t take any issue with the idea FB (Zuckerburg) later falsely denied FB hired the Firm to target and discredit an individual?
If it wasn’t a big deal FB wouldn’t have hired a firm to target an individual to discredit them, and hide behind the cloak of anonymity. They wouldn’t have subsequently publicly denied their behavior. And they wouldn’t have come clean on Thanksgiving eve in attempt to sweep the story under the rug (it’s never an accident when companies publish bad news before a long weekend and it’s telling).
This happens all the time. Theranos literally did this when they hired Fusion GPS for air cover and that’s just one recent example of many. It’s credibility laundering and anyone can pay organizations like Definers that get outlets like NYT and WsJ to publish ‘credible’ scoops
2. From what you linked it’s not clear Theranos did the same thing (ie hired a firm to dig up dirt on an individual and attack them in the media, got caught and lied about it).
But if Theranos did the same exact thing as FB and what you linked to states that...well isn’t that proof such behavior is newsworthy.
That doesn't make it less scary or dysfunctional. It undermines the health of politics and society when this is acceptable behaviour.
That makes it all the more frightening
So is this an argument that the behavior is acceptable?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming there is or should be anything illegal about this, but I certainly reserve the right to make judgements of companies that I might work for or do business with based on both the lies and the truths they choose to advocate for.
You've focused on 1 and then used 2 against critics: 'smear people for telling the truth'. But doesn't that criticism apply to the original stories about Soros? How do you tell a smear from a balanced story? Doesn't that require understanding who is telling it and what they have at stake? In which case, 3 becomes relevant.
Also, you've pulled a straw-man on the anti-semitic front: that's not part of the article or argument. Pragmatically, a well-intentioned actor would show an effort to make criticism explicitly anti-semitic, given the racist undertones to large parts of the discussion.
It could definitely be done, but not making an effort on that part _when it is your job to know how the communication will be received_ is a signal that you don't mind the inference being made.
They might not be implying something racist, but they know others will infer something racist and they still went ahead. Do you think that is acceptable behaviour?
So if Facebook wants to make a non-dogwhistling good-faith claim that Soros is attempting to profit from the destruction of Facebook, the burden of evidence is on them to make the case that Facebook is indeed being specifically targeted by Soros, in a way that say, Tesla isn't. If they had that evidence, and they weren't just trying to dog whistle for all the folks who think Soros is a Jewish globalist puppetmaster, then it raises the question of why they went through an intermediary who pushed anti-Soros stories through well known right-wing trolls?
To put it another way, a true fact about George Soros is that he is Jewish. Would you see any problem if Facebook funded a PR group to push news stories focusing solely on the fact that George Soros is totally a Jew? Or to use another example, how about if that firm pushed stories about how Barack Obama spent his early life living with a white teenage woman, another very true fact? 
edit: added link for the fact about Obama
I see a problem with demonizing Facebook and their management based on things we imagine they could do if they were in fact evil.
> for all the folks who think Soros is a Jewish globalist puppetmaster
I wonder if that’s because he is a billionaire Jew who funds a lot of fringe globalist progressive groups?
I’m not here to play word games.
> Ad hominem (Latin for "to the person"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.
Of course, but I get that vibe from some of the criticism of Stephen Miller I read, too. I bet there are not too many people defensive of Miller and Soros equally.
Or are you surprised that Jews are not a homogenous group that all think the same?
He gave all his money to the Open Society Foundation. OS receives funding from multiple sources. OS is funding a lot of organizations around the world based on decisions by tens of committees.
Does that mean that everything these thousands of organizations do are paid by Soros?
I mean, what are the chances that neither Zuck nor Sandberg knew absolutely nothing about this? It’s just too convenient to have this guy jump on the grenade to spare upper management. I don’t buy it for a second.
Exactly...I mean as a publicly traded company maybe this should be investigated. I’d start by taking a look at the severance package/golden parachute the departed received.
Many falsely believe Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading but she actually went to jail for claiming she would be found innocent of the insider trading charges which the prosecution alleged she did for the sole purpose of manipulating the actual Martha Stewart Inc stock price, which would have tanked otherwise. 1st amendment rights to publicly claim her innocence offered her no protection.
Here we have facts that Sheryl Sandberg publicly posted on FB that FB didn’t hire the PR Firm and much less hire a PR Firm to publicly attack Soros.
With the release of these new facts, Sheryl Sandburg admitted in fact she did get memos and emails about FB hiring the Firm (and I believe the purpose). So one must ask why the initial public lie?
Did Sandberg know or have reason to know:think if the truth came out FB stock may have dipped? I’d say yes and if they can make the case against Martha Stewart that was the case with her public statement of innocence for unrelated insider trading charges, then a case could be made here, that Sandberg knowingly lied about FB hiring this PR Firm because admitting the same would have hurt FBs stock price.
This is a change from just a few days ago, when Facebook wrote on Nov. 15 that the Times report was full of “inaccuracies.” The same day, Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, posted on her Facebook page that she had no idea the company had hired Definers.
“I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing,” Ms. Sandberg said, adding, “I have great respect for George Soros.” But in the Thanksgiving eve memo, Ms. Sandberg issued an about-face, acknowledging that the Republican-oriented company’s work had crossed her desk.
“Some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me,” Ms. Sandberg wrote, ”and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced.”
So just to recap, this is Sandberg admitting that he had some, limited knowledge of the plan, after she had previously publicly claimed she had no idea about it.
This is really one of those times that calls for a “cool story, bro.”
Not knowing is not a pass. They need to own it.
But I think one of them knew.
Of course there will be conflict with world-scale ideologues like Soros.
Of course there will be an elaborate dance between Facebook and US politicians who want to control more and more aspects of the firewall.
In case it’s not clear, facebook’s news feed algorithm is a content filter and in many ways it performs (or can be adapted to perform) much the same function as China’s Great Firewall, which is suppression of dissent and certain political ideas.
But compared to China’s Firewall, Facebook has orders of magnitude more power because it has significantly more metadata about each person.
But that is not the important metric. When an article goes viral the traffic is essentially free.
the stats differ depending on the source, but there is clearly a huge drop for facebook past years.
This was either already incentivized by the internal incentives given to editors and writers, or incentives have been adapted (by papers that have survived) to take this valuable channel into strong consideration when deciding how to phrase something.
Sure, actual anti-Semites probably also criticize George Soros, but (a) of course they would, and (b) why the fuck are you paying attention to those bozos anyway?
Of course, accusing people of anti-Semitism is, in reality, usually a dog-whistle for calling them Nazis.
I would argue it's extremely disingenuous to not recoginize that the crowds that blame Soros for everything could very likely have a distinctly anti-billionaire streak.
There are anti-Semites in many movements, both left and right. Louis Farrakhan has been openly anti-Semitic for years. Jesse Jackson has referred to New York City as "Hymietown". Should we dismiss the entire black civil rights movement as "crowds with a distinctly anti-Semitic streak", or should we condemn Farrakhan and Jackson personally while acknowledging that not all of the people they work with share their most repugnant views?
Should we dismiss the UK Labour Party as a "crowd with a distinctly anti-Semitic streak" because of Jeremy Corbyn's uncomfortably friendly comments about Hamas?
Let's also not miss the facts that (a) much of the criticism towards Facebook has been directed at Mark Zuckerberg personally, (b) Mark Zuckerberg happens to be Jewish, and (c) there is also no shortage of anti-Semites who make the connection between A and B. But, because it doesn't serve the media's vested interests to protect Zuckerberg the way they protect Zuckerberg's critics (remember that Facebook is a direct competitor to the mainstream media), they don't go out of their way to point out this connection.
I do think that's the best way to convince yourself and those who already agree with you that everyone on the other side is a Nazi.
The messages may be paid for by people with other overall intents, but the receptive audience for the messages is people like that recent bomb maker. And the people paying for the messages know this.
I could tell people all day long that something was being funded by Warren Buffet and nobody would give a shit. Tell them it is funded by Soros and suddenly you have raised a following crowd of prime fuckwits and I do not think it is because he is Hungarian.
edit - assembled prime fuckwits, you know who you are, there is a reason I picked Warren Buffet for comparison and once you have bothered to look it up, you are really not going to like it.
Warren Buffett is a liberal, very politically involved billionaire philanthropist, very much like George Soros, but with quite literally ten times as much money and political influence.
Furthermore, he has promised to spend all of this money on fluffy liberal causes and social welfare programs and all sorts of other scary commie-sounding stuff before he dies. And he is very old.
Yet, where the hell are all the Warren Buffett conspiracies? He must feel really left out.
I'm not sure they do. Mercer particularly is getting a lot of flack right now.
I just find it slightly odd that people put George Soros up as some scary liberal billionaire kingmaker while completely and utterly ignoring an actual liberal billionaire kingmaker.
I have no issue with these organizations. I support many of them, and am left-wing and Jewish myself, but it's not a smear to say he's a significant backer of the causes of the left in the same way the Koch brothers are significant backers of the causes of the libertarian-right.
Buffett isn't nearly as influential as Soros or the Koch brothers in terms of political spending. He has spent and is continuing to spend a lot on philanthropy, but not specifically to ideologically and overtly left-wing organizations, other than the kinds of donations almost all rich people make (for several reasons), like ones to prominent political candidates and the main two political parties.
He is the only one of those three to have successfully backed, funded, be the economic adviser for and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from, a two term US President.
Also, he gives out vast amount of money, far more than Soros, mainly because he has far more money, to things ranging across a variety of progressive causes such as universal public health, refugee rights and support, sexual rights, family planning, and campaigning for global nuclear disarmament. He is every bit the activist politically involved liberal billionaire.
The reason why people dismiss a lot of criticism against Soros is because a lot of the criticism is not based in reality, period. I am more than happy to criticize rich billionaires but the meme around Soros is clearly based around the anti-Semitic idea of a Jewish cabal running everything behind the scene rather than any sort of issue with wealth.
Vladmir Putin also has plenty of innuendos about killing people. However he actually does have them and has taken pains to make it clear it was him doing stuff like using rare nerve agents instead of any far cheaper method of assassination - just common cyanide in a large enough dose kills just as well as polonium, better in fact but it causes too quick and clean a death for terror purposes.
Why are people accusing him of unfounded stuff, as you say they are doing. What is their reason to make up or spread unfounded accusations that rile these other folks up that you mention, why are they doing that, do you think?
For an example of the last going on about say Obama's college essays don't really mean anything in comparison to what he has actually done - it looks to be downright racism in holding him to a different standard bring and not care about say Rick Perry getting D in a course called "Meats".
You could reasonably call him out on say his foreign policy continuing bad practices or what he signed. Calling him an athiest Muslim who prays in a mosque communist born in Kenya would just be bigotted literal nonsense.