20 thoughts on “USA: Hill and Knowlton, public relations for big oil, big war and big torture

  1. Author : Sterling Hager
    URL : http://www.agencynext.com

    Your post either proves that big establishment PR is doomed or that it is indestructible. In my post this morning in response to yours, at http://www.agencynext.com/2007/04/09/the-best-pr-is-invisible/ I argue that transparency will ultimately win out. Big PR wants to act like big legal counsel, believing everyone is entitled to a defense no matter what. That’s nonesense. The two disciplines are, or should be, entirely different. PR people are supposed to give advice about improved behavior.


  2. Dear Sterling Hager, sorry that my anti spam program rejected your comment at first. In re-posting it, I also corrected your URL (where there had been no space between “/” and “I”).


  3. The worldwide PR conspiracy
    (Sunday 14 September 2008)
    Alpha Dogs, by James Harding (Atlantic, £22)

    IN the 1980s, US admen started to sell politicians to electorates with techniques long used to sell soaps to consumers.

    It was just a matter of employing the power of television images to play on emotion, promote negative campaigning and focus on personality instead of policy. Does it sound familiar?

    To take an example, in 1996, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had recently been assassinated after making peace proposals to the PLO.

    His Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was expected to win the subsequent election for prime minister.

    A US Republican tactician persuaded the opposition party Likud to end the tradition of 21 days of TV debates between candidates on policy issues.

    In the last three weeks of the campaign, the TV showed 25 seconds of footage of a bus blown up in Jerusalem by a suicide bomber, over and over again.

    Another shot showed frosted glass that shattered to reveal Peres walking hand in hand with Yasser Arafat. The message was clear. Israel was in peril and Peres was weak. He lost.

    Another US strategist gave the Dalai Lama a new advertising style to toughen US public opinion against China and promote Buddhism so that, one day, “his holiness will have done what the Polish Pope did in eastern Europe.”

    More on these global techniques and less on the lives of the PR men would have made this a better book. Author James Harding, the editor of The Times, gives credit to the image-makers for bringing politics into the TV lounge. His verdict ignores their ruthless distortion of truth and reason.




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