Puffery, Media, and Media Relations


Puffery, Media, and Media Relations

Of the list of public relation activities in chapter 11, I find media relations to be an interesting facet. This is particularly because media has seen a significant transition in the age of the internet. I believe it would have been easier to deal with media companies when there were few of them and most were centred on specific channels of communication. Currently, the internet has given rise to new platforms, including social media, and while media companies treat such platforms as new channels to reach audiences, there are new media companies that have risen from (and exclusively based off) these platforms.

An example is YouTube and the numerous media companies operating from YouTube with millions of audiences. It is thus fascinating to me how public relations relates to different media outlets and how narratives can be managed to suit client needs. In addition, I think now, more than ever, social media is becoming central to media relations for public relation firms and it is interesting how such firm navigate the new media to the benefit of their clients. Also, a perspective I am interested in under media relations is how consumers have gained power – in a content-generation way – and how this plays out as a dynamic between PR firms and their clients. It seems like erosion of influence from the mainstream media, and it raises the question of how media relations should be approached going forward.

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According to Baran (2018, p.505), puffery is the small lie which is used to make advertising entertaining than it would be in a typical perspective. Based on the examples in the textbook, the statement “world’s best coffee” in a coffee shop in downtown could be taken as puffery. As an FTC regulator, I would allow puffery only to the extent that it does not cross the literal line shared by society. Ideally, puffery should be easily detectable and not taken at face value, that is, in a literal sense. I would draw the line at the point which a brand could – through consensus of the average person – be seen as deceiving the customer. If the average customer cannot tell whether the claim is just for advertisement or an actual feature of the product then I would consider that deception.

An example is if for instance a medical tablet is marketed as “heal instantly” and then customers assume that this is the case then this would be deception. I do believe that the context of the product plays an important role as well in finding out the line between deception and puffery. This is for instance in the case of Coca-Cola’s Dasani water and their use of “spring water” claim which turned out to be false as they were not actually sourcing the water from a spring; like most of their customers assumed.


Baran, S. J. (2018). Introduction to mass communication: Media literacy and culture. Introduction to Mass Communication: Media Literacy and Culture.

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