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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 6: Penn State University



Penn State University

Best and Kellner (1991), in describing some similarities and differences among postmodern theorists write that:

…(Jurgen) Habermas’ idealized notion of consensus could be used to legitimate the manipulation of individuals and suppression of difference through celebrating consensus as the ideal of “coming to a consensus.” This concept downplays the fact the consensus is often forced and forged by the will of the stronger imposing their will on the weaker. A Lyotardian, by contrast, would stress the importance of articulating and preserving differences to avoid potential repression and manipulation. (p. 241).

I do not profess or proclaim myself to be either a Habermasian or Lyotardian. However, in the context of Neo-PR and postmodernistic public relations thinking, I believe there is value to be found in Lyotard’s notions of the articulation and preservation of differences. Indeed, these notions are well represented in the principles of Neo-PR. And there is likely no clearer example of the importance of articulating differences than in the case of the Penn State University (PSU) sexual abuse scandal.

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