Spiritual approaches to marketing and public relations

Spiritual approaches to marketing and public relations have been around a long time, at least for centuries, and perhaps, millennia. I am coming to understand that my personal approach, grounded in an ecological, earth-centered, divine feminine  perspective, has its roots in those times.

Public relations mythologies of the Spanish explorers linger today. Personal collection of the author.

Within earth-centered perspectives today, many of which are the result of the Indigenous Rights Movement, it is not uncommon to seek inspiration in works that came “before:” pre-Christian, or pre-Colonial/contact. In many cases, particularly after 1400, the two occur in tandem. But a divine feminine perspective often looks to the past in Western European history “before” the patriarchy disrupted the nature-based, shamanic Goddess religions and the communities and societies which were organized around them. Margot Adler, a long-time, respected, National Public Radio journalist, tells us in her landmark book, Drawing Down the Moon, that today, the heirs to
nature-based, divine feminine perspectives “…see themselves as modern-day heirs
to the ancient mystery traditions of Egypt, Crete, Eleusis, and so on…” I agree with her perspective, and often return to the original feminine archetypes for deeper understandings of my own life experience and professional practice.

I am not alone. Public relations practitioners often see the roots of their profession in a time “…as old as human communications itself,” according to Wilcox, et al, in Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. The writers note:

In succeeding civilizations, such as those of Babylonia, Greece, and Rome, people were persuaded to accept the authority of government and religion through techniques that are still used: interpersonal communication, speeches, art, literature, staged events, publicity and other such devices. None of these endeavors was called public relations, of course, but their purpose and their effect were the same as those of similar activities today.

Persuasion, drama, and storytelling remain the primary techniques of the practice of Spiritual Marketing Public Relations. Use of feminine archetypes, modern mythologies, dramaturgical approaches, and a ritual, consummatory view of writing or speaking as direct action connect Spiritual MPR as a discipline not only to the communications techniques of earlier civilizations, but give rise to an understanding of its unique role as a 21st century offshoot of establishment public relations practice.

Wilcox, et al, cites the remarks of Peter G. Osgood, who spoke of the adept practice of Babylonian, Greek, and Roman politicians to send a team in advance to prepare the way for travelling dignitaries. A timeline of these early examples of public relations follows:

  • St. John the Baptist’s work for Jesus
  • Speech writing by Plato
  • Investor relations in the 15th century in Venice

Followed by the editors’ additions:

  • Pope Urban II’s engagement of the Holy Crusades in the 11th century
  • Pope Gregory’s creation of the College of Propagation in the 17th century
  • Spanish explorers spreading the story of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold and the Fountain of Youth
  • Eric the Red’s discovery of ice-covered “Greenland” in 1000 AD
  • Sir Walter Raleigh’s embellished accounts of life on Roanoke Island in the 16th century

From my eco-feminist perspective, something strikes me to be of particular interest. In EACH of these examples of early public relations is its use within a colonializing agenda to supplant the existing order with the patriarchal order deemed advantageous to the advancement of Western Civilization. This realization leads me to formalize a central question about the intention of public relations practice at its inception:

Was early public relations practice used consciously and deliberately to supplant and replace pre-existing earth-centered and divine feminine perspectives as means of colonizing lands and peoples?

I can only presume the answer is yes – despite the tendency today to see public relations and mass communications as a way to maintain the status quo. I wonder…

What will evolve as divine feminine business leaders used the same techniques from their unique perspective to effect a sort of re-membering, re-claiming, and  re-turning? What will evolve as a result of drawing models for effective professional practice from nature herself?

Sherri L. McLendon is a communications strategist specializing in the application of spiritual principles in marketing, public relations, and media.

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