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The surprising ways that metaphors shape your world

December 11th, 2009 / 3:00 pm

This article from the The Boston Globe says that:

  • “Drawing on philosophy and linguistics, cognitive scientists have begun to see the basic metaphors that we use all the time not just as turns of phrase, but as keys to the structure of thought.”
  • “By taking these everyday metaphors as literally as possible, psychologists are upending traditional ideas of how we learn, reason, and make sense of the world around us. The result has been a torrent of research testing the links between metaphors and their physical roots.”
  • “To the extent that metaphors reveal how we think, they also suggest ways that physical manipulation might be used to shape our thought.”
  • “While psychologists have thus far been primarily interested in using such manipulations simply to tease out an observable effect, there’s no reason that they couldn’t be put to other uses as well, by marketers, architects, teachers, parents, and litigators, among others.”

Indeed; these days, there’s a lot of thinking being done in the area of ‘conversation communication’ and ‘digital storytelling.’ Where the two meet allows persuasion marketers to tap into PR applications for metaphors, which are said to be the keys to unlocking the power of the unconscious mind, the place where most decision-making takes place.

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PR as a weapon of conflict in the news

December 9th, 2009 / 3:17 pm

Weapons of Mass Communication poster from Imperial War Museum

When public relations (PR) is mentioned in the news media, have you noticed the aggressive headline or story contexts in which the PR expression occurs? I have, and since I started looking for especially military applications of the term, I’ve been amazed how PR is widely depicted as a weapon of conflict in the media. So, just for fun, I did Google news archival searches for the last 30 years and found a rising tide of the warlike presence of PR:

News, as a packaged media product, generally markets the story of conflict between different sides, and it seems as though contests between opposing forces must have winners and losers:

Even if it’s not one side versus another, PR often appears in the news as a shocking or destructive element:

In general, over the past several decades, public relations has experienced a much higher media profile and all the charts — which are an inexact but crude gauge — show generally similar trends. I hope this evidences a sign of increased professional regard for public relations, but sometimes it seems that PR in the media is seen as something to respect but often as much to be feared.

Categories: blog, news
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