The published research shows the profession is facing crucial changes: the existence of new organisational structures better aligned with social demands; the emergence of new techniques for interacting with organisations in a more trustworthy manner; and growing pressure by social groups acting both for and against particular social values, ideas and identities.
Strategic Public Relations versus Public Values? The ‘Swarming’ of German Defense Minister Zu Guttenberg
Strategic Public Relations versus Public Values?
The ‘Swarming’ of German Defense Minister Zu Guttenberg
Hagen SCHÖLZEL & Howard NOTHHAFT
Campus Helsingborg, Lund University Sweden
The following article presents a case study of a prominent communicative conflict. We take a look at the two-week-period that led to former German defense minister Karl-Theodor Zu Guttenberg’s resignation on March 01, 2011. The first part of the study is dedicated to an account of the case, paying attention to Guttenberg’s attempts at handling it. Second, we present an explanation why Guttenberg’s attempts failed. On the face of it, the reason was unprecedented ‘swarm activism’, a ‘killer swarm’. We want to clarify what the metaphor captures. We argue that a) the speed and thoroughness with which the swarm worked, b) the indisputability of its results due to impartiality and transparency and c) the anonymity of the swarm members undercut ‘traditional’ strategies such as ‘accusing the accuser’ or ‘playing for time’. We conclude, thirdly, with a theorization of the clash of strategic Public Relations and public values illustrated by the affair.
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