Public relations

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You gotta spin it to win it
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Public relations (PR for short; euphemistically, spin or optics[1]) is the art of making the unacceptable and obnoxious into a fragrant and desirable thing. It can also be described as a refutation of the old saying "you can't polish a turd."[2]

The concept and the term "public relations" originated in the business world — hence the definition of an industry: a gang of extortionists with a gimmick and a PR agency. (Keen operators acting outside the capitalist nexus had to rely more on clientage/protégés, on private armies[3] or on patrons ("friends in high places") for support where it mattered.) But PR has evolved such that much of politics and monarchy these days is pure public relations. Noted masters include Lady Diana Spencer, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and almost any other President of the United States (Jimmy Carter being a possible exception to this rule).

As mentioned above, a division of PR is spin. The UK Tony Blair government provided a prime example of spinning out of control.

Politicians don't lie any more, they just engage in public relations. And they don't change policies any more; they just "spin" them to look more acceptable.

PR has two main objectives: promotion and damage limitation:

  • Promotion is in effect advertising; whether of a product, person or organisation. A hitherto unknown person can become famous (and possibly wealthy) purely through the intervention of a PR firm.
  • Damage limitation often occurs when a "celebrity" is caught out in some misdemeanor. The PR firm can then spin the reporting of the event or circumstance to place their client in a less bad, or even positive, light

As of 2017 countries such as Saudi Arabia pay public-relations firms millions to improve their image in the United States.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. (February 2017). "A New Meaning of 'Optics'". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  2. Mythbusters proves you can indeed polish a turd
  3. See the Wikipedia article on Private army.