What is Propaganda?

Definition: Propaganda is explicit information spread by a person or a group to promote certain ideas or a particular position related to a topic. Propaganda is commonly understood as a message or a set of messages massively communicated by an organization to drive people or certain target groups toward a specific opinion or belief.

What Does Propaganda Mean?

Propaganda is a term that can be used in many situations. It is present whenever a group or organization sends pre-defined messages or delivers public campaigns with the aim of changing or influencing mentalities or attitudes about a particular subject. Under this broad framework, the word can be applied in both institutional and commercial contexts. Advertising is therefore a type of propaganda designed to convince potential buyers or users about the advantages of a product or service.

However, the word is frequently mentioned in a negative sense since it has been vastly used when referring to dictatorial or freedom-limited regimes. In those circumstances, propaganda tends to promote a distorted reality through the inclusion of untruthful elements. Indeed, the term is mostly applied to sell ideas instead of commercial products and services.

Example

Heeckland Inc is a state-owned company that provides telecommunication services in a small Latin American country. It is the only provider and therefore the company faces no competition. There is a government institution created to regulate and control the quality and price of telecommunication services but its function has been always weak. The government owns and operates both the regulatory agency and the regulated company.

Some citizen groups started complaining visibly about the quality of Heeckland’s services because of frequent shortages and poor customer service. The telecommunication company and the regulatory agency agreed to deliver a massive public campaign over the next six months to address the issue. This campaign will contain slogans where the company guarantees citizens that the current problems will be entirely solved, thanks to planned investments that would reach approximate 70 million dollars by three years. However, the company budget only considers investments totaling 10% of that amount in the first year. Moreover, there is no certainty about the available budget in the second and third years.

In this way, the propaganda received by the citizens was unrealistic although certainly effective to diminish public discontent.