Who Do PR Folks Think They’re Fooling?

August 24th, 2010

Despite the inflammatory post title, I’m not really talking about all PR folks, or all PR activities.  But there is a subsection of PR that I just can’t imagine the people writing the PR copy actually believing anyone in the world will believe.

The example that prompts me to write this is a translation I did regarding a hairbrush with a blue handle with some kind of simple flower design.  The PR materials talk about how the blue handle makes it easy to coordinate with other items in a persons’ travel bag.  The person writing this must have known that there is nobody, anywhere, who decides what to put in their travel bag based on how well color coordinated they are with the hairbrush’s handle.  The document goes on to use an expression that really typifies this type of PR: “the design and color makes brushing your hair fun”.  The whole “makes X  fun” PR phrase: what is its purpose?  There’s not a single person on the planet who thinks, “Hey, they say having a blue handle makes brushing your hair fun.  Maybe they’re right!  Maybe I should go get this blue handled brush, it’ll make brushing my hair fun!”

I mean, I understand that some PR has a subliminal or attitudinal effect, so even if it isn’t taken at face value by most people, it subtly affects them.  But this kind of overblown “having a blue handle makes brushing fun” PR…it just seems like it would have the exact opposite effect.  Here I am translating the document, and all I can think is “boy, what a bunch of wankers”.  It isn’t even the “any PR is good PR” thing, because it doesn’t make their company stick out in my mind, they just get lumped in with all the other companies that use this ridiculous PR, into a faceless blob of “people who make products that have so little going for them, they don’t really have anything to showcase”.

But then I think about the PR guy who wrote this.  Did he think that someone, somewhere, would be swayed by this?  Or did he have to do it because his boss said “Write!”  In which case, did his boss think that someone, somewhere, would be swayed by this?

It’s just a baffling mystery to me.

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