a conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistencies between one's beliefs and one's actions or other beliefs
Public relations, or PR, is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or organization and the public. Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.
A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor every message to appeal to that audience. It can be a general, nationwide, or worldwide audience, but it is more often a segment of a population. A good elevator pitch can help tailor messaging to each target audience. Marketers often refer to socio-economically driven demographics, such as "black males ages 18-49".
Stakeholder theory identifies people who have a stake in a given institution or issue. All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a public relations agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money.
Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a public relations effort necessitates the creation of several distinct but complementary messages. This is not always easy to do, and sometimes, especially in politics, a spokesperson or client says something to one audience that creates dissonance with another audience or group of stakeholders.
Lobby groups are established to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion. Such groups claim to represent a particular interest and in fact are dedicated to doing so. When a lobby group hides its true purpose and support base, it is known as a front group. Moreover, governments may also lobby public relations firms in order to sway public opinion. A well illustrated example of this is the way civil war in Yugoslavia was portrayed. Governments of the newly seceded republics of Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia invested heavily with British and American public relations firms to create and maintain a positive image in the United States.
Negative public relations, also called dark public relations, is a process of destroying a target's reputation and/or corporate identity. In other words, instead of concentrating efforts in the creation and maintenance of a positive reputation or image, the objective is to discredit someone else, usually a business rival. Unlike regular services in public relations, those in negative public relations rely on the development of industries such as ITsecurity, industrial espionage, social engineering, and competitive intelligence. A common technique is to find and reveal a dirty secret or embarrassment of the target. Dark PR can also involve twisting or producing misleading facts. An example of this is UCLA students who created a smear campaign to get people to ban dihydrogen oxide, which they said caused billions of dollars in damage yearly and killed millions. In reality, dihydrogen oxide is another name for water.
The building of a dark PR campaign, also known as a smear campaign, is a long and a complex operation. Traditionally it starts with extensive information gathering and aims to destroy the relationship between the company, its shareholders, and its customers.
Some claim that negative public relations may be highly moral and beneficial for the general public since the threat of reputation loss may be disciplining for companies, organizations, and individuals. Apart from this, negative public relations helps to expose legitimate claims against one.