Drawing the Curtain: Propaganda vs. Public Relations

Alex Greenwood
9 min readMay 20, 2023

The Role of Logic, Critical Thinking, and the Citizen’s Responsibility

In this so-called “post-fact world,” it is more important than ever to understand the way information is packaged and disseminated to a generally passive populace. People routinely accept what they see on TV and online as truth, without giving much thought to its credibility — especially if the outlet is their chosen source or appeals to their emotions.

That is, of course, dangerous. It led me to think about the shaping of mass perception, the role my profession, public relations, plays in the information environment, and how it can be a force for good.

In the realm of shaping public opinion and influencing mass perception, two powerful tools come to the fore: propaganda and public relations (PR). Both propaganda and PR share the common goal of conveying information and persuading audiences, yet they differ significantly in their intentions, methodologies, and ethical considerations.

Let’s draw the curtain and delve into the distinctions between propaganda and PR, shedding light on their respective purposes, strategies, and impacts on society. We’ll also examine the way humans think, why books are banned, a key failure of the educational system, and how the only way to avoid being manipulated is for citizens to employ logic and critical thinking.

Defining Propaganda

Propaganda can be defined as the deliberate dissemination of information, ideas, or rumors, typically with a biased or misleading nature, to manipulate public opinion and advance a particular agenda. Propaganda aims to control and shape people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by employing techniques such as emotional appeals, selective presentation of facts, and the use of loaded language. Historically, propaganda has been associated with totalitarian regimes and oppressive political systems, aiming to control the narrative and suppress dissent.

Understanding Public Relations

On the other hand, public relations, often referred to as PR, is the strategic communication practice of establishing and maintaining positive relationships between organizations, individuals, or institutions and their target audiences. PR focuses on managing the reputation and image of a person, brand, or entity by building trust, and credibility, and fostering mutually beneficial…

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Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.