Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism

Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism

Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism

Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism


Utilizing case studies from public relations, advertising, and marketing to illustrate deconstruction and analysis of public relations campaigns, this volume provides a critical look at public relations practice. The author applies the cultural studies approach and explains how it can be used as a critical theory for public relations practice. He concentrates on looking at the material text of a campaign; therefore, the text will become the focus of deconstructing.

This book seeks to reflect the work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida who proposes that one should deconstruct a text as a way of examining the ideas proposed in the text. Thus, the work of deconstruction can become a critical reflection on public relations work. The book questions the purpose of a particular public relations project -- whether employee communications, government lobbying, community relations, crisis communication, or product promotion. Looking at the point of view in the campaign, it examines the data or evidence for that point of view, as well as the assumptions of that view. To ask questions of public relations material is to deconstruct it. Therefore, a critique of certain fundamental preconceptions of the public relations view will be implied in the chapters of this volume.


What I try to do in this book is to show how public relations belongs to the everyday process of social construction. With all its material, public relations practice is basically a cultural product. Therefore, I believe that anyone interested in public relations should not be afraid to deconstruct public relations by challenging its assumed autonomy as a privileged mode of representation.

I have been writing about public relations as a cultural artifact for the past 10 years. This book contains much of that work, always pursuing a critical view of the field.

For my own inspiration for this book, I am grateful to a wonderful essay by J. B. Harley (1991) on deconstruction. I paraphrase his view here; where he originally talked about making maps, I substitute public relations as the practice. The interpretive act of deconstructing public relations can serve three functions. First, it allows us to challenge the epistemological myth of the cumulative progress of what many call an objective science. Second, the deconstructionist argument allows us to redefine the social importance of public relations. Third, a deconstructive turn of mind may allow public relations to take a fuller place in the interdisciplinary study of text and knowledge.

Thomas J. Mickey Rye, New Hampshire . . .

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