About hobbies and aborted souls

‘Where do babies come from ?

– Ask your dad.’

 

‘Where do answers come from ?

Ask Socrates.’

 

The Symposium by Plato is a philosophical text about soul and love.

The action takes place at a dinner party where all the finest Greek thinkers are gathered around.

Each one of them is exposing their own eulogy of Eros, the god of sexual love.

Socrates is the last one to do his speech, in which he introduces his fellow companions about the concept of maieutics.

According to him, a soul that needs to express feelings, ideas or opinions is a pregnant soul that requires the help of a midwife to deliver. The philosopher plays the part of the midwife, by helping the soul to give birth to her ideas through a constructive serie of dialogues. His role is to ask rethorical questions to the soul in order for it to express itself through self-reflection.

It is a pedagological method that allows people to find the answers to their questions by themselves, rather than exposing them with an unquestionable solution. A reasonning done this way will be more likely to be remembered as it first went trough a deep thinking process before reaching its final conclusion.

To some extent, we could see blogging as one application of the maieutic concepts. By encouraging PR students to reflect on their course through blogging, I believe that tutors aims at making us find the answers to our very own questions through self-reflection.

To sum it up, blogging would be our modern version of the labour of the soul.

On another note, let’s recall that philosophy in antic Greece was not seen as a working profession, which would be synonymous with pain and sacrifices, but was considered as a highly noble hobby in the greek society, which could only be legitimatly practiced by the social elite.

The XXth century German philosopher Hannah Arendlt considered that hobbies had become in our society a way to escape from reflection. ‘Entertainment’ in Latin is said to‘divertere’ which literally means ‘to look away’.

Are hobbies like music, cinema or dance moving us away from ourselves?

Are hobbies like TV reality shows, phone texting, online games allowing us to reflect on ourselves?

My question is: through the practice of these diverse activities, am I getting into labour and delivering my baby ideas, or at the contrary shutting them down and carrying an abortion on my soul?

About dog food and marketing


Yummy.

‘What’s the difference between PR and marketing ?’

PR is about people;  

Marketing is about dog food.’

 

 

 

 

When meeting opposition to a product, marketing often thinks the solution is lower pricing or better packaging. However, public relations professionals realize that pricing doesn’t make any difference if a consumer group is opposed to the product because they think it is unsafe.1

Marketing only relates to the product of  company whereas PR deal with he people related to them.

Here is an example of that difference in the American TV show Mad Men.

Mad Men, created by Mathew Weiner and originally broadcasted on AMC since 2007(BBC4 in UK), talks about an advertisment company in the ‘60s.

In the first episode of season 3, entitled ‘The Gipsy and the Hobo’, a client requires the agency services for his dog food company, ‘Caldecott Farms’. This brand needs to get a new communication strategy since it was releaved in the press that horse meat is being used in their food products. However, the client refuses to change either the ingredients or the name used by the brand.

In consequence, the advertisment company will have to work on the reputation of the brand instead of it’s product. Therefore, in that particular case, they are doing PR work instead of marketing work.

I personaly think that PR should not be considered as a part of or equal to marketing. Marketing should be a part of PR.

PR can be applied to a lot more fields than marketing. Like Alison Thuker said, ‘PR is about EVERYTHING’.

PR is about any stakeholders you can think about.

PR is about investors, dog owners, competitors meaning dog food manufacturers, dog food retailers etc.

Whereas marketing is just, afterall,  about dog food.

1 Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, Tenth Edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron, Chapter 1, Part 1, p19.

 

About Plato and Star Wars

lego version of luke skywalker and dark vador fighting

The Allegory of the Cave by Plato, in his book The Republic, tells the story of men chained together in a cave, facing a blank wall. The only things they can see is the reflection of shadows on this wall, created by a fire situated behind them. They cannot identify what the shadows are the reflection of. Therefore, they are building some ideas of what it could be. Being chained, they will never be able to know what the truth is.

A man comes into the cave and frees only one of them, who then comes out of it and sees the sun for the first time of his life. He can see the real world and abolish the false ideas he had of it.

The chains that keep the men prisoners are an allegory of their own ignorance. The mysterious man that sets free one of the prisoners represents the philosopher. He shows him the way out to the real world.

To some extend, studying PR might be seen as learning how to keep people in this cave, the way of manipulating them by screening only our point of view on a blank wall that they would be forced to watch. We would let them see what we want them to see, blocking access to certain information, forcing them to have one opinion and one behaviour.

Whereas on the contrary we could define ourselves as the mediator between the world of ignorance and the world of awareness. We are the gatekeepers of a three way dialogue, as explained by Alison Theaker’s class Thursday 24th November:

: —–> First, we are charged by an organisation or a personality to strategically communicate with different kind of publics—–>

 <—– Second, we listen to the publics’ feedbacks <—–

—–> and third we respond to them —–>.

So, the question is: Are we the jailer or the philosopher?

                                      Are we the bad guy s or the good guys?

                                      Are we Darth Vador or Luke Skywalker?

About religious influence and a supersized penis

Priapus was the son of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. As he was the result of the illegitimate union of Aphrodite and her lover Dionysus, Zeus cursed him with a supersized penis. According to the legend, he was abandonned on earth by his mother because of his malformation and brought up by sheperds and farmers. That is why his wooden statue was put in farms field: it was a common superstition that people attempting to steal the harvest would be sodomized by the wooden statue.

For sure, we can find these Greek legends and believes goofy and ridiculous.  However,  a lot of sayings, rumors and superstition rules our lives everyday.

We are told to switch of the lights to save the wales of the bears. We are told to eat our soup if we do not want to be eaten by the ogre. We are told not to smoke, not to drive, not to eat cheeseburger, not to have sex and not to use cotton bud because all of this is baaaaaad.

Some of them might be legitimate, some others might be arguable.

The point is, we are not always told the rational motivations of all these should do/should not do ‘advices’ . We are meant to apply these kind of ethic lobbying  without asking any questions. Changing people values and way of living can be  a real challenge. Unless you use the social trends of the moment to convince people.

For example : let’s say that I’m living in the Middle Ages and I want people to stop wearing yellow T-shirts. I would have use a religious argument , like ‘yellow clothes attract the devil’. I could have also use a superstition specific to this centuries, as : ‘yellow is the color of witches’.

Nowadays, our trendy brand new religion is ecology.

‘Do not wear yellow T-shirt because they are made out of seals skins.’

Greek legends and believes might be goofy and ridiculous.  Still, not wearing yellow T shirt to save the seals is probably as goofy as putting a statue of a supersized penis in a field to proctect it from burglers. And this is towards what our world is heading.

About greek masks and evil mobile phones

‘What’s the difference between arguing and persuading ?

These are two ways of convicing someone about something.

Arguing implies the exposure of a logical reasoning of facts that lead to an unbigious conclusion.

However, persuasion aims at touching the sensibility of people, influencing on their emotions and feelings, which might be detached from reality.

When arguing is using the brain, persuasion is playing with the heart. Which one ought we to use ?

Threfore, when using persuasion, we are dealing with two sides of a same coin. It is like greek drama masks: there is the good face, and the bad face.

When using emotions in order to persuade someone, you can play with positive conotations through references to values, humour, or sexual content.

But what you can also do is playing with people’s most intimate feelings : fears and guilt.

The best way to sell a new technological product to a targetted audience is to create a need of this product. Therefore, the best way to brought people to change their behaviour is to make them afraid or feeling guilty about their previous behaviour : afterwhat you can create an emotional need and propose an solution to it, which could be a new way to behave or a product to buy.

Let’s now have a look at the difference between fear and anguish.

We fear someone or something that is known and identified. Therefore, because you know of what you are scared about, you can easily find the appropriate solution to it. For example : I fear the tall guy that steals my lunch money everyday at the school cafeteria.

At the contrary, angish is a unidentifed feeling of anxiety. What am I scared of ? How can I stop this feeling if  do not know where it come from, or why am I feeling that ? for example : Death.

And that is the danger of an unbalanced campaign using emotional persuasion: you can succesfully create a emotional need within a targetted audience however if you do not success to fulfill this need the audience will turn around against you.

Another risks would be of contraictory emotional messages which will confuse the audience who might consequently reject all persuasion attempt. One xample would be the  mobile phones industry: in May 2011, newspapers of all around the world were talking about a possible risk of cancer for mobile phones users. People were advised to be ‘careful’. So what ? What does it mean ? That I shouldn’t/must not use phones anymore ? What are the risks precisely ? Says who ? Based on what studies ? WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT ? ARE MY KIDS GONNA DIE BECAUSE OF AN I-PHONE ?! . Then comes October 2011with a new scientific studies: mobile phones does not appear to present any risk of cancer anymore. Magically all risks is gone. So which side do we trust?

To sum it up, emotional persuasion is a unreliable too that can turn against you and is also questionable: is manipulating the audience’ fears to influence their behaviour not an open door to dictatorship ?

 

About coffee filter and Anarchy

Tuesday’s guest lecture at LCC introduced us to a bunch of professional journalists exchanging views about CITIZEN JOURNALISM.

Me on Tuesday

Adam Baker, CEO and founder of Blottr, was there to present his web news platform.

Basically, people from all around the world can upload videos on blottr, followed by an article of their own.

The concept is that audience take an active part in the news making process by broadcasting the news itself to the rest world.

But Blottr and this so-called ‘citizen journalism’ made me a bit of an angry bunny.

 

When journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, who chaired the debate, asked to Adam what would constitute the medium between the news poster and the platform, Adam answered that Blottr do not “really moderate” posts because they trust their users.

That reminds me of a anarchist theory of XIX°th french philosopher Charles Fourier called ‘Le Phalanstère’.

Le Phalanstère is the ideal concept of a closed autartic community ruled neither by law nor any form a government; relationships are based on trust. For example, no one would tell you ‘you must not eat that cake’ but they would expect you not do it because they trust you and assume that peer pressure should be enough to incite you not to do it. Everybody trust each other as long as they can see what you are doing, betting that under the social pressure you would not behaved badly.

But there is two things that make Fourier’s Phalanstère an utopia : his theory implies that firstly everyones has a good standard of behaviour and secondly that everybody can constantly watch each other in order to apply this peer pressure. This second issue shows that the Phalanstère cannot possibly work out within a big society.

Blottr tends to be looking for the same trust that you could find in a Phalanstère.

But Blottr aimed about 2.5 billion internet users. Could you trust that many people?

Morevover, another issue that deserves to be looked at is the bondary between ‘citizen-journalism’ and voyeurism.

Journalists are like coffee filter. They filter information to keep only the relevant, unharmful ones to be made accessible for the public interest. Further more, they synthetize, analyse and compare the raw information using internal or external ressources to provide with a meaningful and valid interpretation.

Wikileaks is a good example to show the importance of this journalistic process. Journalists were in charge of treating thousand of documents to distinguish the ones worth being told, and others that could expose certain sources to retaliation.

Therefore journalists don’t just put a shocking video of burning bodies in India (like some you can find on Blottr.).Because that is not journalism nor a breaking news. That is a dodgy show.

About Lawyers and Greek Oracle

Tiresias appears to Odysseus

‘What is the common point between a Greek oracle, a lawyer and a PR professional?

–       Mediator’.

The Greek epic poem Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, a warrior sentenced by Poseidon to wander around the fantastic dangerous seas for having beaten his son the Cyclops .

During this eventful ten years, Odysseus encountered monsters, goddess, kings, and finally, ended up in the underworld to meet the soul of Tiresias the oracle.

This is not the first appearance of the oracle in the Greek mythology.  The blind prophet of Thebes was already famous for being transformed into a woman by Zeus, which lasted 7 years.

Tiresias is then considered as a ‘mediator’.

‘Mediation designates processes for bringing about agreement or reconciliation between opponents in a dispute.’*

Tiresias is mediating between gods and human beings, men and women, blind and seeing, the underworld and the living.

But mediation does not only apply to oracles.

Another definition of it would be ‘an attempt to effect a peaceful settlement between disputing nations through the friendly good offices of another power.’*

This is what lawyers do. They take care of the legal aspect of mediation. It’s an attempt to reach an agreement between two parties that would save the time and the cost of a trial.

With my dad being a lawyer, I somehow grew up in that environment.  I could see that he connected his clients to this big and complex institution that is justice. He knows the tricks of it. He knows that depending on his clients’ purposes and reasons, he should go that way or another.

Law is like a hammer. It can be used to tack a nail, as well as removing a nail from the wall. The same law can be used in two opposite ways – it all depends on what the client wants and if the lawyer is good enough to juggle with the tools provided. That is why lawyers can also be defined as mediators.

Last but not least, PR professionals are responsible of the internal or/and external mediation of an organization or a personality. They are mediating between them and their employees, an audience, or a market.

As a conclusion to that, mediators have been playing a central part in every society. Tiresias, lawyers and PR professionals are all mediators, linking individuals or groups of people together; which could be gods, celebrities, consumers, justice or dead people.

My first idea was to study criminal law in United States but in order to go into American Law School, I have to get a degree first. I did not want to study law in United Kingdom because there is not that much similarities with the American one. A PR degree though would have been a good introduction to it though. Now, I don’t know really knowhere I will end up at the end of my degree, but I still have 3 years to figure it out.

*Definitions taken from http://dictionary.reference.com  website.

 

About Table And Prostitutes

Viril Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show

‘What is a table?’

‘A table is made for

Aims at

In purpose of

Is used as…

…A support for things.’

The most common way to define something is to indicate their purpose.

But when it comes to answer to the question ‘What is PR?’, it gets a bit more complicated.

Everybody –including professionals- cannot simply give a universal definition of PR. PR are the same as the world it finds itself very fulfilling -society, culture and lifestyle: partially inaccurate in its own definition. And that is because of its specificity.

Even PR “professional” do not agree on its definition.

The majority of them do not even have any qualification in PR. And even if they do, having a degree does not make you a professional. Experience does.

Therefore, how peculiar it is to be able to study at university a course which definition is quite fluffy.

Then, why did I choose to study PR?

Heather Yaxley quoted on her lecture on Tuesday a John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton’ quote :

“Todays PR industry is related to democracy in the same way that prostitution is related to sex”

Actually, I think that comparing PR to prostitution is quite flattering. : Prostitution is the oldest job in the world. Every society needs prostitutes to handle the lust of passionate men who otherwise would not be able to control it. PR as well went through the centuries: don’t you think that Cesar or Napoleon had some kind of PR counselor sitting next to them?

PR does not have an accurate definition, but prooved itself to be extremely important in society. Every CEO or movie stars have a PR professional standing next to him.

Therefore, what I am expecting this course to tell me who these PR professionals are, and how they ended up sitting next to these people.

I want this course to teach me why this sort of prostitution took that much place in society, and how to become one of these prostitutes.