When I think of the title “public relations” images of Olivia Pope (a popular character on the show Scandal), people who “fix” things, and people who “spin” things come to mind. Public Relations isn’t necessarily a popular title to have.
In the documentary, The Persuaders, the roles of marketing, public relations, and a variety of other communications positions are explored. The Frontline producers explore this from the mindset of what has been done in the past to get consumers’ attention and what will have to be done in the future.
It is no secret that marketing, product, placement, and public relations is at work is all around us. However, this documentary reveals just how pervasive this tactics really are. Focus groups are used to gain feedback on what consumers are thinking and what they are looking for in the future. Companies pay thousands of dollars to have their products show up in a blockbuster movie. With all of this “digging into” the private lives of consumers, one must ask the question, “Is this okay?”
To some extent, it is simply the world that we live in. It has almost become second nature for us, as consumers, to type in our email address at the American Eagle checkout or exchange our phone number for a 20% off a new pair of jeans.
I personally don’t believe there is anything wrong with businesses asking for people’s information. If we, consumers, are willing to give up our “private” information, isn’t it on us? If I felt so strongly that I didn’t want American Eagle to have my phone number, I don’t have to give it to them. However, if I value that free pair of jeans more than I value my phone number, that’s a personal decision.
There are other instances and examples where companies have overstepped their boundaries and gained customer information illegally, but those cases are few and far between. Ultimately, we have to decide, as consumers, what we value more: two pairs of shoes on BOGO or our private information.