The Public Relations Industry

Dr. Inger Stole
Associate Professor
Joined the department in 2007

A common career interest among undergrads is public relations, so the department is fortunate to have Dr. Stole on the faculty. She is well versed in the public relations industry. She investigates how advertising influences people (even when they don't realize they are being influenced). In her teaching and research, Dr. Stole takes a look back in history to see how public relations and propaganda play a role in the past and present.

1. What got you interested in studying the history of public relations and propaganda?
My interest in public relations and propaganda evolved from an initial interest in advertising. Gradually, I became aware that advertising does more than sell shoes, soap, and cigarettes. It is an important part of large public relations and propaganda campaigns and has, for this reason, a much larger social, cultural, and political impact than we think.

2. In your class "History of Public Relations and Propaganda," you cover war propaganda. What are some of the most popular propaganda techniques used in past wars that are still used in today's wars?
Ever since WWI, the government has "used" the mass media as a tool to gain citizen support of its war efforts. Considering the change in media since the early 20th century (radio was not a public medium during WWI; TV was not introduced until after WWII), it goes without saying that the techniques have been different. The strategies, however, have stayed pretty much the same: providing the press with the administrations' agenda, knowing that this information will be reported as news, will carry a great deal of authority, and will not be immediately challenged.

3. What is one thing that you would like undergraduates to know about your research, your findings, or your role as a professor?
The purpose of advertising, public relations, and propaganda is to present objects, events, and (political) agendas in ways that will elicit specified actions and responses. Quite often, the implicit purpose is hidden or obscured. My research aims at uncovering motivations behind the messages so that we may gain a clearer comprehension of what we see, read, and hear through the mass media.