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Public Relations in a Postmodern World

Christopher Caldiero

Christopher Caldiero examines new ways of thinking about public relations practice in today’s technological and postmodern world. His concept of «Neo-PR» and its thought-provoking principles re-examines and re-frames modernistic notions of public relations for today’s burgeoning PR practitioners. The book begins by looking at the historical development of the public relations field in the context of the modernism movement of the early twentieth century. Drawing parallels to this movement, Caldiero argues that public relations practice was inevitably shaped by modernistic thinking. Using a series of recent and prevalent public relations cases, he then shines new light on different ways public relations can and must be practiced in our different world. These cases and organizations include the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon crisis, Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood, The Boy Scouts of America, Penn State University, and SeaWorld. Neo-PR: Public Relations in a Postmodern World re-conceptualizes public relations as we’ve come to know it, and helps to prepare today’s undergraduate and graduate public relations students for our postmodern world.
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Chapter 2: Postmodernism, Public Relations, and Neo-PR



Postmodernism, Public Relations, and Neo-PR

Oneness, or more to the point, the criticism of oneness and absoluteness, lies at the heart of much postmodernistic thinking. This is essentially the idea of pluralism versus homogeneity. In addition to criticisms of science and technology (and the dangers of relying too much on them), postmodernism also sees many problems with the ideas of absolute truth, absolute morals—and absolute objectivity. From this core criticism, we can examine postmodernism in a bit more depth and begin to apply it to public relations practice.

As we saw with our discussion of modernism, postmodernism is certainly subject to wide varieties of interpretations and definitions. It seems that many different fields have conceptualized postmodernism in ways that are most appropriate to particular areas. For example, art historians can and do examine postmodernism in the context of perceived and/or real changes in artistic styles. Cultural studies scholars conceive of postmodernism as having impacted that sphere in very specific ways. Philosophy, political science, literature…and communication—the list goes on and on. As a result, it can be argued that in the multitude of attempts to define and clarify what postmodernism is, the picture has become even more clouded. Even opinions about the usefulness of understanding postmodernism range from indifference and boredom, to intrigue and excitement. Holtzhausen correctly notes that attempts to apply postmodern theories to public relations are “a nomadic journey, across many paradigms and scientific domains” (2000, p. 98)...

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