The state of PR

BADPRSIGNGiven the atrocious state of Scientology PR around the world, it is interesting to note that throughout the various networks, divisions etc of corporate Scientology, a basic hatting text has been the book EFFECTIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS by the two American authors Scott M. Cutlip and Allen H.Center.  Not only the book itself but an edition thereof that was personally edited by Mr.Hubbard and for which it appears permission was obtained from the original publishers.

Large blocks of text have been crossed out by red lines;  remarks have been made in margins and so forth.  By now the old original copies of the specially edited version are surely falling to pieces.

I believe the book (edited version) has been in use since some time in the seventies.  It was first published in 1952.

Now, to coin a Marty Rathbun phrase “moving up a little higher”, in 1982 a Mr Glen M. Broom entered the arena and the long lived text is now by Cutlip, Center and Broom. Broom began to feature from the 6th edition on.

Interestingly enough the modern definition of PR described in the 6th edition of the text is remarkably similar to that penned by Hubbard in HCO Policy Letter 18 November 1970: as it appears in Volume 3 of the Management Series: viz


“The interpretation of top management policy to the different publics of the company –

To advise top management so that policy if lacking can be set –

To make the company, its actions or products known, accepted and understood by the different publics – and to assist the company to exist in a favourable operating climate so that it can expand, prosper and  be viable”.

Is anyone complying with this policy?  –  I don’t think so!!

In the aforementioned 6th edition of Effective Public Relations, several lessons could well be learned by taking cognizance of something described as one of the most persistent efforts to define public relations.  This comes from Public Relations News, one of several commercial newsletters serving the profession:

Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes (Hubbard told his people to do surveys), identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.

Notice that, unlike the conceptual analysis, this definition deals with the activities involved in public relations.  Such an approach has produced hundreds of attempts to write a definition that captures the essence of the function by listing the major activities that make up the practice.  Long-time public relations scholar and professional leader Dr. Rex F. Harlow undertook the task of collecting such definitions published since the turn of the century, breaking them into major elements, and classifying the basic, central ideas these included.  From his analysis of 472 definitions, he produced a working definition that is both conceptual and operational:

Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics;  involves the management of problems or issues;  helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion, defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication as its principal tools.

The results of an even more recent attempt to define the function was presented in November, 1982, to the 35th National Conference of the Public Relations Society of America.  In addition to a conceptual definition stressing public relations’s contributions to the functioning of our complex, pluralistic society, the presentation described a collection of activities, results, and knowledge requirements.

The contents of the many definitions of public relations include common notions,  In summary, the ideal public relations function:


  • Is a planned and sustained programme conducted by an organization’s management.
  • Deals with the relationships between an organization and its various constituent publics.
  • Monitors awareness, opinions, attitudes, and behavior inside and outside the organization.
  • Analyzes the impact of organizational policies, procedures, and actions on various publics.
  • Adjusts those policies, procedures and actions found to be in conflict with the public interest and organizational survival.
  • Counsels management on the establishment of new policies, procedures and actions that are mutually beneficial to the organization and its publics.
  • Establishes and maintains two-way communication between the organization and its various public.
  • Produces specific changes in awareness, opinions, attitudes and behaviours inside and outside the organization.
  • Results in new and, or, maintained relationships between an organization and its publics.
  • The evolution of the concept and the numerous descriptions of the practice lead us to a conceptual definition:

Public relations is the management function that identifies, establishes, and maintains mutual beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends. (emphasis added).

While it may well be unrealistic to think that current day corporate scientology would deign to comply with any advice from the ‘wog’ world it is interesting to observe, upon further reading of not only the PR Series but also the Marketing Series, Hubbard, in addition to acknowledging (even if only patronizingly) the merits in a standard PR text he also quotes fairly extensively from Al Ries and Jack Trout, co-authors of “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind”.

Ries and Trout also co-authored Marketing Warfare and I well recall a chat with one your fellow countrymen, a lady by the name of Sally Falkow, during a coffee break at a seminar by none other than Mark Shrefler.  She was telling the story of how (could it have been Miscavige himself or perhaps his brother Ronald who was once hailed as the new Marketing Executive at International Management) upon Hubbard’s death approached Ries and Trout for advice on a marketing strategy.  When the two marketing gurus said at the outset “lose the church image” they were fired before they were hired.  They may even have been declared Suppressive!


25 thoughts on “The state of PR

  1. Thank you for this, guys.
    I recently resigned from a health organisation which advised on dietary questions. Not bad stuff, but I’d had enough advise. Immediately, a PR lady called and wanted to know if there was anything they could do, or I wanted. Then, was there anything I would tell her about the organisation or products. Frank and honest. And because of just that (and a good product), I would recommend them. And they’ve continued to mail me their monthly newsletter (with my approval). ARC in place.
    Contrast that to my resignation from the Co$.
    Some Org staff member called to invite me to a up-coming function, not knowing I had resigned. After a brief chat, I told her no, I would not be coming as I had resigned. Well! You could feel the air go cold! After a suppressed expletive, she cut the line.
    PR? It doesn’t exist in the church anymore at the org level. “Yes – talk nicely to prospective new members, but do not talk or communicate with those wanting to, or leaving, the church.” I remember leaving the Presbyterian church some three decades ago, and the church officials kept a good comm with me. We greeted each other in town – and not more than two years ago when I attended a funeral in that town in that church, the priest greeted me with affection! And he knew I was then a Scientologist. It did not matter to him. He was looking at ME. And the old parishioners came and said hello too.
    There is simply zero empathy exercised today by the Co$ to the public at large. The PR at the top is all about raking in the money by lies, fraudulent misrepresentation, distortion of facts.
    Co$ today has nothing to do with improving the conditions of Man.

  2. Frik, it’s interesting to note the difference in attitude between the Co$ “telemarketer” and the Presbyterian clergy. The Christian faith considers everyone Christian, they believe we just don’t know it yet. Thus they are more than happy to keep talking to people in the hope that they will eventually come around. Even priests who knew I was practicing Scientology back then would still talk to me to try and get me to change my faith. And considering it was a very conservative Afrikaans town of Robertson where Scientology was considered on par with ritual sacrifice and witchcraft!
    These days PR is used to “sell” how we’ll we are doing worldwide and keep everyone “motivated” to fight the good fight. But anyone who has been to actual events or orgs shown at International Events know that many of the crowds and course rooms are “fluffed up” using staff and people not even on course! A visit to any of those locations and you soon realize the stream of people we see is just camouflage for a sleepy receptionist who spends more time making herself coffee and a lonely course sup trying to keep busy with four of five students – in an Ideal Org!
    PR is meant to be used outward for the world to think well of the group or company, Scn seems to be using it more like propaganda so the parishioners think everything is groovy when things are really a ghost town. Talk about wrong end of the stick!

    • Hey Aether. Nice picture of the local gossip in Robertson.
      Like the guy in the deep mid-west, who has the mailman coming around regular as clockwork, to deliver the tons of church mail that he used to get because he bought a book once, on a trip through Missouri .
      The guy becomes known as that crazy guy who believes in Scientology who gets all that god-dam-mail.

  3. If the “Duty of PR is “The interpretation of top management policy to the different publics of the company” and “To advise top management so that policy if lacking can be set”. Then this demonstrates clearly the RCS is not using PR and its function within the organisation is utterly defunct.

    What PR person would advise a Church to engage in the insane Squirrel Busting activities it did against the Rathbuns? What PR department would suggest that Narconon offices and “counsellors” fraudulently use the logo of the NAFC or claim false credentials thus opening themselves to multiple lawsuits and the danger of being shut down completely?

    What PR person would advise that the Church sends storm troopers into an area they know NOTHING about and start beheading its Opinion Leaders and chopping up its own field in a Spanish Inquisition style?

    The Church does still use surveys which they leave on the chairs for people to fill in after events – which they half-heartedly push the public to fill in. These surveys are then taken and shoved in a desk draw in Dissem somewhere, used ONLY for regging public and the rest are eventually thrown away. I have not NOT ONCE seen any after-event surveys used for evaluative or PR purposes.

    DM is arrogant – he’s not about to allow ANYONE to advise him on PR – he does it his way – or the highway………………… and so, the Scientology movement circles the drain and it’s PR gets worse by the second. Way to go DM!

    • Interesting point about event surveys Shelley. If they do a “survey” it it’s make-believe marketing and PR. Survey tech, if applied as Hubbard writes, is a fairly exact process. Direct questions encoded with ARC and Be/Do/Have questions and so forth.
      What I have seen over the last few years is none of that.
      I was trying to find out how the surveys were done at London Ideal building, thinking they would tell me about the local ethnic and PR surveys of London public, but they misunderstood me and started telling me how the desks and tables and decor was fully surveyed before the furniture was made and installed ……….
      Hmmm. I gave up after that.

  4. The church has to reach it’s public. LRH wrote tons of policies about how to do this.
    Sitting in front of a new person today, the elephant in the room is an enormous toxic PR reputation of the subject you are offering the new person.
    Besides all the troubles the church currently faces, this situation, toxic PR, is THE biggest problem it has. (From its viewpoint of course).
    As the CEO of the church, this would be THE problem you would be trying to solve. You would get surveys done, organize in-depth interviews, as advised by the Effective Public Relations book mentioned above, you would be getting feedback from everyone and looking it over and fine-tuning more surveys and looking at blogs and social media and talking to ex-members and current members and non-members.
    All of the above would very quickly bring you to the toxic PR situation and how very deep and pervasive it is, and, of course, to what would be needed to start healing this scene, if at all possible.
    From this point, the CEO would start implementing the deep and pervasive changes required to start the journey back to acceptable PR.
    Every claim the church makes today, as noted above, every claim of success with anti-drugs, sits squarely in a toxic pool of bad repute regarding Narconon.
    Every claim of progress in the human rights campaign is negated and turned worse by the church and it’s leader’s human rights record.
    A win by a client after some auditing, is tainted by the fact that the person delivering the auditing has no benefits, receives no pay, lives like a pauper, and by default, by not receiving money, allows the leader to take thousands to enjoy exactly these benefits denied the staff member.
    Unhappily, every well-done auditing hour in the c of s has a tax attached, which is that the low pay or no pay has enriched the church at the cost of its staff. It’s an FN with blood on the table.
    If their leader went on TV to apply the PR series or the PR book, he would be trashed. He has zero credibility. He would be 100% unable to defend claims of horrific abuse by Debbie Cook and 100′s and 100′s of others. Every forced abortion, disconnection, OSA activity, payment to high-priced lawyers, false claims at events, hiding of the absence of OT 9 and 10. Everything would cause him a PR nightmare. And it does.
    He and his staff are 100% unable to use PR tech. If they do, it will backlash against them.
    They are stuck. The leader can only, only, use so-called new programs and “bright ideas” to try and get by.
    He has created a scene where PR tech cannot be used. His frustration must be at unbelievable heights right now. 
    Now, with the above toxic scene, we would think that the CEO would be tackling this problem head on. Any CEO worth his salt would do so.
    What is the leader doing? 
    He is in lalaland, whoppee, let’s do fundraisers!
    This classic push-pull situation, a classic problem situation, will keep the “rudiments” of the organization out, all the time, not third dynamically sessionable. Never.
    It will be short-tempered, it will cause trouble, it will be full of withholds, it will be a very unpleasant place to be.
    At the very least, the scene would need a new leader or maybe more accurately, more new leaders, to even stand a snow-balls hope of getting through the toxic wastelands that is the current church. 
    Other than that, the subject dissipates into many, many independent groups, versions, alliances and survives or doesn’t, as discussed on the blogs many time.
    Great article Scnafrica. 

    • I was going to leave a comment here pointing up the hypocrisy of the Church’s actions compared to the PR policies and how they cannot be applied now because of all the overts the Church commits on a daily basis “defending itself from all us horrible SPs” but you nailed every point I was going to make greenonwhite, so kudos to you. I could not agree more.

      • Thanks Chris.
        The dead-agent tech gets reversed.
        It’s supposed to be:
        Accusation: Abuse.
        Rebuttal: Evidence of happy harmony.
        The news media now reverses this:
        “Accusation” by c of s: We have no abuse, all is well.
        Rebuttal by media: Amy’s book, Marty’s books, Marty’s blog, Mike’s blog, various court testimonies, videos of Debbie Cooke’s testimony, Blown for Good book, Nancy!any’s book, Aussie TV, Tony Orteg’s article, Truth Rundown – St. Petersburg Times, CNN shows, BBC shows, Steve Halls sites and articles, anion and on and on.

    • Yet regges drive around fancy cars…
      Regges are unnecessary
      People that buy auditing are selfish
      Coauditing balances these inequality problems

  5. Arrogant is the key word here.
    A very interesting article.
    All those clay demo’s on Pro TRS ARC and the Comm Cycle
    not one staff member in the Church can DUPLICATE LRH!
    I really am speechless!
    How on earth do they justify such hostile rudeness!

  6. No disputing that the Church’s PR sucks big time.

    The biggest reason in my opinion is that the Tech has been totally FUBARed.

    Then off course there’s the fact that they don’t apply their own policies.

    Just try asking for a refund.

    The original purpose for having a refund policy was to force the Org to get results.

    Yet now one is told that the fee they paid for service was a “donation” and that one should not expect “tangible” results and besides they got a tax write off so be fruitful and multiply.

    In other words f– off.

    Then despite the fact that Disconnection was canceled in 1968 as part of the Reform Code. It has been reintroduced as a method of political control.

    Same with sec checks which were Abolished at the same time.

    I read the “natter boards” and I see these three main areas of complaint. Lack of results or in many cases plain and simple *no auditing*, forced disconnection and an over use and the abuse of Confessional technology.

    Ironically for many years the Church was under a sustained coordinated attack by various Government Agencies, backward politicians and various vested interests. Yet it managed to survive and even flourish.

    In fact the indictment of its most senior executives in the GO had very little effect on the Organization. The opposite in many cases since in that post Vietnam, Watergate period of time distrust of the Government was endemic.

    They could have demanded a public trial which would not only have exposed the GO’s dirty tricks but the Government’s as well and the fact that CIA was using Scientology to create Psychic Spies.

    But instead the new management who took over basically threw ’em under the bus.

    Not only that but under the new regime other long term and dedicated Scientologists were kicked to the curb as well.

    Then the whole Mission Conference followed and we were well on our way to the eventual destruction of the Organization under the pretense of “saving it”.

    My think.

    • Saying that Scientology PR tech forbids lying in PR is unrealistic and misleading, and PR Series 2 is also misleading – called “PR of PR.” If one reads all of LRH’s instructions on the subject of PR, Propaganda, and Intelligence, one will begin to understand.

      • Yeah but the PR series permits what is called an “acceptable truth” which was interpreted by the GO as leaving out shit especially shit that was embarrassing where as OSA and the Org in general’s current interpretation is just to make shit up.
        You know like the Organization has expanded more in the last five years than in the preceding 50 years.
        Yeah right.
        Or that they’ve been making more auditors under GAT than any previous time….
        Or that they are interested in forwarding the cause of Human Rights.
        Sure, sure.
        Or that they planned to get rid of psychiatry by the year 2000 which sorta reminded me of these anti-smoking Nazis who planned to create a “smoke free world”…
        Good luck with that.
        I’m surprised that Miscavige doesn’t have a 20 foot proboscis.

      • I was referring to simple and straightforward use of PR tech as written up by Hubbard. Nothing weird about those series. If used well, it is workable. Not complete maybe, but workable.
        I was not referring to intelligence and sekrit writings. I guess if you want to trash everything he said with one brush (or tar….) then that’s your right, but my left.

      • Hi Greenonwhite,
        Suggest you read PR Series 18. Even some of the non-confidential parts of the PR Series show that “Never tell lies in PR” is, itself, PR, or, as LRH called it, “PR of PR.”
        However, seeing that, one can still use the good in Scientology to help others. IMO, understanding the (sometimes uncomfortable) truth about Scientology frees one to fully use the good in the subject.

      • B. V>
        You: IMO, understanding the (sometimes uncomfortable) truth about Scientology frees one to fully use the good in the subject.
        Me: Very good viewpoint and position to take and always keep in mind.
        Every datum in scn has to be evaluated on it’s own merits.

  7. Great post! I was wondering if any ex staff members know why the Church does no surveys where anyone is allowed to give any negative feedback. I was given surveys (by mistake) from the staff and on the left column of the page – there was instructions to write down the tone level of the comment. If it was below 2.0 – discard comment. When I asked about this – I was told “I was not suppose to get that”.
    Don’t these staff members think this is odd? I mean, really???

  8. I mean. Does it really matter? David’s P.R. is shot. Over and done. He took the Church down with him. Are people waiting for an HCOB to announce it? A concession speak? It is over. Move on to plan B. Keep on walking don’t look back. He is just a bad memory. We can erase that with Dianetics if it is an issue. That is as easy as it gets.

    • Oracle. I think it does matter. If someone on the edge still looking and figuring sees this type of interchange, it may help.
      You have it figured out. Not everyone does yet.
      Anyway, that’s why I persist at this.

  9. >he also quotes fairly extensively from Al Ries and Jack Trout
    Trout and Reis’ entire Positioning pamphlet is reprinted in the Marketing Series (HCO PL 13 September 1988R, so I assume it was added after his death). Hubbard wrote HCO PL 30 January 1979, POSITIONING, PHILOSOPHIC THEORY, which showed that he misunderstood what Trout and Reis were saying, or at the very least couldn’t distinguish *product* positioning from *brand* positioning. Read the two PLs back to back and you’ll see what I mean.
    The funniest part is that Hubbard said Trout and Reis didn’t understand the theory behind their methodology, and yet they helped several companies develop screamingly successful marketing campaigns. Scientology marketing has produced few really good pieces; most of them are repetitive, dull, and make little or no sense to non-Scientologists. As I recall, the most successful ads of Hubbard’s era use the same “tech” as ambulance chasing lawyers: “Is your life out of control? Having trouble communicating with your spouse? Have you been injured at work? Call us, we can help!”.

  10. I saw this book (the edition mentioned printed with Ron’s comments and crossings out in red) when I worked at St.Hill England in about 1965/6. I can’t find “my” copy, so I guess I just saw it. It was remarkable to me at the time that (a) Ron should use what appeared to be a main stream work, and (b) the publisher would give permission for a copy with Rons notations to be made – with the technology of tht time, it would have been an ambitious printing job — but I never heard of it being sold within Scientology, and it is hardly likely that it would have been used/sold outside of Scientology circles. I am wondering if anyone else has seen a copy(?)
    Best wishes, Ant

    • There’s a box of about 25 of them in the Qual Courseroom at Golden Era Productions. Somewhere around ’95 all of us on the Int Event crew were ordered to do the complete PR course including studying the book with the LRH notations. It looked to me like they got it reprinted somehow. There must be a few around somewhere.
      Corporate Scientology would be a different animal altogether if they paid attention to real public relations and tried to deliver a product that is actually needed and wanted. Instead they think of it as a collection of techniques to fool the public and cover up mistakes. That only works as long as you can fool people with fake news etc. The internet kind of wrecks that idea.
      If you’ve ever read Mission Earth, the section where the hero hires a PR guy gives a great overview of what LRH thought PR was. Also the criminal film crew in the last book is based on Ron’s impressions of Golden Era Productions.

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