Misrepresentation By Careful Ambiguity

When first looking at “misrepresentation by careful ambiguity,” the first thought that crosses the mind is how large each of those words are. Though they are simply 35 alphabetic characters, the meaning behind each word is so transformable. Definitions may be provided in a dictionary; however, the true connotations can be morphed though exchange in dialogue, societal implication and action. With deeper analysis, these words hold vast importance in the public relations words. However, the catch is that it all depends on its usage.

According to http://www.dictionary.com “misrepresentation” is to be represented falsely, incorrectly, improperly, or in an unsatisfactory manner. The definition of this word leaves room to question whether misrepresentation is technically a negative word. In regard to public relations, being represented falsely does not ultimately mean disapproval and poor publicity. It simply reflects that the intended message, regardless of its connotation is not projected in the desired manner.

There are multiple examples of how misrepresentation has altered the public personas of individuals in both positive and negative lights. The tabloids are filled with stories about how celebrities go out to clubs and leave completely trashed. I’ve read countless articles about how an once respected pop star is now a pill-popping waste-case. Though the headlines may read as such, it only touches on one example of that individuals representation. For instance, suppose one parties into all hours in the night but the next day devotes their full time to a community service event. The media clearly would not focus on that aspect since it would not catch as much attention as destructive behavior. Misrepresentation has been used to better the image of others as well. A perfect example would be of Ted Kennedy. After his passing, hundreds spoke on behalf of the man and his actions towards the betterment of society. Newspapers streamed with stories about how he dedicated his full-time and devotion towards the American public. I found it most interesting how the press used his death as an opportunity to misrepresent him in a more positive light. The incident in 1969 where he left the scene of a fatal car accident caused by him seemed to have been erased from everyones memories at the same time. Though this man did bring much positive change to society, he still acted in manners that were distasteful. With the usage of misrepresentation to any extent, one can alter the way others may perceive an event, action, or individual.

While attending North Eugene’s International High School, one saying the student body lived by was “give me ambiguity, or give me nothing else.” We thrived off the teachings of how to this word to such an extreme. It is defined on http://www.dictionary.com as an unclear, uncertain, or doubtful meaning or intention. Overall, it means that the intended message is difficult to decipher. However, this definition once again does not state that this is necessarily a negative aspect to public relations.

Based off my personal experiences working in public relations, I have found ambiguity to be a control aspect. The amount of information and understanding that is left available to the public ultimately determines the education and knowledge on a subject. As seen in past examples, such as Enron, not being upfront and honest towards others can be a hinderance. When a corporation or individual has the divine power to influence the thought process of others, integrity can be called into question. However, at times the public can be the one in control when not enough information is left readily available. For instance, it is widely understood that politicians are vague. They tend to leave out details in hopes that others will do research in order to prove or disprove said statements. By allowing the public this opportunity to act as self-educators it is given complete control over how everyone will portray the event, actions, and individuals in power.

In public relations, appearance and influence is everything. Ones representation to others carries all the power and determination of success. By knowing how to properly use “misrepresentation” and “ambiguity” a public relations campaign can flourish. Ultimately, knowing how to convey a message that will impact the masses demonstrates the strength of that campaigns reliability to the public. Bottom line, it all depends how the message is portrayed and conveyed.

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