The Holmes Report released a blog post discussing the Open the Book’s recent study on U.S. Government’s spending on Public Relations, which alarmed and angered a large portion of the public because of its substantial collective amount of $4.37 billion since 2007, and their own critique on the matter. The Holmes Report applied context to the massive total amount of spending that Open the Book’s didn’t, and discovered that the total federal spending from 2007 to 2014 was actually $27.2 trillion, implying that the government spends less than 0.0016 percent on communications. I found myself agreeing with Paul Homes, I don’t think Government is not only just spending inefficient amounts on Public Relations, but also using it ineffectively.
This week in my Civic Engagement class, the topic of discussion was about “voting.” We looked at the statistics, saw where the numbers suffered, and tried coming up with reasons and solutions. Most of us argued that the reason people, primarily the younger demographics, didn’t vote was because they simply didn’t care, or don’t feel as if their vote will make a difference. We went in circles about how to change these statistics, maybe looking towards having virtual online polling as an option, bringing in those with too busy of a schedule or lack of transportation to vote; but in the end we circled back around to the initial problem with the younger generation, the desire to vote.
I personally argued, not to my surprise as a journalism student who’s focus is in Public Relations, that we as individuals needed to take the responsibility of advocating the importance of being politically informed and the benefits of an active civic engaged society, through social media. We have the world at our fingertips now, we might not wake up first thing in the morning and listen to the radio to hear the breaking news like they did in the 40’s, instead we rely on friends and the accounts we follow to give us the information we choose to pay attention to. We have the opportunity to share, communicate and bring awareness to issues we want others to care about; this year and for the sake of this post’s topic, the 2016 election.
When I read The Holmes Report blog about our governments spending on PR, I wished I could turn back time to bring that topic into discussion in my Civic Engagement class. We were concentrated on us as a society and how to improve our engangement, completely forgetting that government itself should also have a role to play in making society care too. Too many citizens find themselves distrusting the government, not finding a reason to care, why wouldn’t they want to change that?
The Holmes Report brought up examples from organizations like the Department of Army, the Centers for Disease Control, and the EPA. They spend sufficient amounts on their Public Relations and Communication plans, which all resulted in very effective campaigns. The controversy with the federal government however doing the same then enters the territory of lobbying, it can be difficult to identify what is biased or unbiased propaganda. Encouraging the country to vote in general however, or to ‘sell’ a campaign idea like, “Every Vote Counts”, would that really be so bad? Having a government that actually wants you to feel like you have a say and an impact concerning your own country?
“The government has a right and a duty to communicate its policies, both to keep the public informed and ensure the success of its programs.” – Paul Homes
Public Relations can be torn apart and defined in a lot of differentiating ways, but according to studies as a student at UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism, PR is the strategic management to help an organization achieve its goals & objectives, and achieve goodwill with stakeholders. I don’t see why the government shouldn’t want to invest in something that would help achieve their goals and objectives, and unite them in a positive way with the people. The United States was found on that very notion, We the People, taking initiative, control and responsibility of our government. I want to see that kind of message portrayed, and I want to see our government officials individually want the support of their people. I hope I see a trend begin and grow with our federal government and Public Relations, but more importantly, in ourselves.