For this new post I have chose to speak about PR in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria became a democracy in 1989. Before, under the domination of the Communist ideology, there was no obvious need and no freedom at all to practice public relations. That is why, as most of the contries from East Europe, Bulgaria discovered a progress of freedom of expression after the changes to democracy in 1989 and the real public relations profession emerged, which can be described as one of the manifestation of the freedom. As the media sociologist Todor Petev points out "in Western societies Public Relations emerge and develop to meet the needs of business corporations and their customers, whereas in the young democracies of Eastern Europe they appear as a necessary means of reorganization and stabilization of social interactions and relations in a period of total crisis."
Public relations in Bulgaria is closely linked to media relations.
To show this huge influence, I give you an example :
In the afternoon of the 21 December 1991, the program of the first Bulgarian television channel has been interrupted by a special flash announcing that an accident took perhaps place in the Kozloduy nuclear power station (north of Bulgaria).
Some local radios, as Reuter and Deutsche Wele, repeated the news and it has caused panic among the Bulgarian population and among some of neighboring countries. Most of people have taken emergency measures applicable to nuclear alert. For instance : some have begun to source water and caulking their windows, others have tried to move away from the nuclear power station.
However, this crisis was a farce of a group of students who realized the television program "Neck-neck". They were inspired by "War of the Worlds", a radio new broadcast and presented by Orson Welles and Mercury Players in New York in 1938. At that time, it caused an immediate panic among listeners who had not realized that he was a science fiction. Thus, the Bulgarian students, following this example, were originally one of the biggest media scandals in Eastern Europe.
Some elements help to understand why this joke has taken such this size.
- The Chernobyl accident occurred five years ago, and at this time, his long-term effects began to emerge in Bulgaria, such as the increased incidence of leukemia in children. Moreover, people remember the disaster that many had been kept secret for six days and after the information was presented approximations.
This fact can show us a facet of Bulgarian PR. The Bulgarian authorities, have not responded to this crisis. The spokesman of the institutions involved have not clearly stated that it was only a joke. Bulgarian practitioners seem to be trying to manipulate the dissemination of information and its inﬂuence on publics. They attempt to get favorable publicity into the media, and not surprisingly, do not want to share unfavorable information about their organizations with the media. I really think that this professional belief can limit the development of public relations in Bulgaria and has implications for the ethical standards of Bulgarian public relations practitioners.
- Bulgarian media didn’t stop talking perpetual technical problems of this nuclear power station.
This event would never provok such a reaction without the absolute trust of viewers in the television information. Indeed, compared to the eighties, when the Bulgarian population was very skeptical about the information, then controlled by the government, the years ninety was marked by trust in the media including television. A survey conducted in 1991 shows that at the time, 50% of the Bulgarian population described television as the medium most authentic.
I hope that you find this example as interesting as I think and maybe it will be interesting to imagine what it could be happen if the same new was broadcasted in the countries of your topic ?