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Activist Public Relations

Kristin Demetrious


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Activist public relations (PR) is a focused view of communication activity by politicized third sector groups such as social collectives, community action groups, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to foster their public legitimacy as voices for social change. In particular this aspect of PR describes practices that draw on principles, strategies, and tactics, such as promotion, to form public opinion and thus strengthen cases put to the state and business sectors as well as to the citizenry. This voice consists of activists employing strategies, tactics, and especially worldviews to challenge dominant positions (→ Communication and Social Change: Research Methods ; Public Relations ; Planned Social Change through Communication ). Historically, the domains of activism and PR were sharply polarized and characterized by adversarial relations and mutual distrust. In fact, a movement within PR launched substantial revision of PR theory and practice in response to activism that gained ever more national and global impact in the last three decades of the twentieth century. At the center of this tension were divergent worldviews about the role of business, and even government, in its pursuit of self-interest and its relationship to modern society. Business viewed activists working against the expansion of business interests as undermining their legitimate activities, whereas activists ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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