The more I teach PR the more the question of how it relates or fits into Marx’s monetary theory of value crosses my mind. What I have come up with is rough and still be worked out but I think two things might be argued.
The first is that PR can be seen as an essential part of the realization of value. Whilst i’ll side step the question of whether it constitutes productive or unproductive labour for the moment it does seem that PR plays an integral role in trying to guarantee that the commodity they it is promoting is successfully exchanged. I’d say this occurs in several overt and covert ways such as lobbying, input into advertising campaigns and activities that aim to convey a socially acceptable image and identity for the company and the companies commodities.
The second has to do with what seems to the role of the public relations employee, which I would liken to the idea of personification or traeger, insofar as the employee is literally trained to speak for and strategize for the interests of the company. Such a role also seems to be reflected in the formation of PR subjectivity, which can be illustrated with an anecdote from a recent class on Foucault, where many of them criticized Foucault’s idea of Power/Knowledge with a Straussian assertion that they thought the government should hide things from people because it prevented panic and fear. What struck me about this was not only: (a) that such a viewpoint is completely foreign to social circles I inhabit and (b) malarky but that it also revealed a profound trust in the function of institutions, a trust which must also be essential to carrying out the purposes and interests of corporate institutions.