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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 4: Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood



Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood

In our postmodern world, the impact of technology and social media on organizational communication seems to increase exponentially with each passing month and year. For some time, particularly in the early 2000s, it was unclear what effect new communication tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, would have on such established, modernist phenomena as public relations. Although some noted the Internet’s increased use as an information tool (and the notable decrease in more traditional forms such as newspapers, magazines, and television [Brody, 2004]), most scholars and certainly most organizations and PR practitioners did not and could not foresee the many different ways social media would change communication.

Now, it is foolish to argue that social media have little or no impact on how, when, and why organizations communicate with their publics. Social media have, perhaps unlike any previous tool, allowed and encouraged publics to help shape the realities of organizational situations. Additionally, the empowerment of publics through the use of social media falls right in line with the principles of Neo-PR. Lastly, as Holtzhausen (2000; cf. Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002) has wisely argued, in a postmodern world, the PR practitioner must become an activist. This is all very clear in the 2011–2012 case of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood.

Beginning in early 2011 and continuing through that year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation took a number of actions that led,...

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