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  Public Relations and Propaganda

Public relations usually is associated with the influencing of public opinion. Therefore it has subsequently been linked with propaganda. Using one of the many definitions of propaganda "... the manipulation of symbols as a means of influencing attitudes on controversial matters" (Harold D. Lasswell), the terms propaganda and PR seem to be easily interchangeable.

Still many authors explicitly distinguish between public relations, advertising and propaganda. Unlike PR, which is often described as objective and extensive information of the public, advertising and propaganda are associated with manipulative activities. Nevertheless to treat public relations and propaganda as equivalents stands in the tradition of PR. Edward L. Bernays, one of the founders of public relations wrote "The only difference between propaganda and education, really, is the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don't believe is propaganda."

Also institutions like the German Bundeswehr use the terms publics relations and propaganda synonymously. After a 1990 legislation of the former minister of defense Stoltenberg, the "psychological influence of the enemy" was ceased during peace time and the Academy for Psychological Defense renamed to Academy for Information and Communication, among other things responsible for scientific research in the field of public relations.

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RTMark and Adbusters at the WTO Conference in Seattle