I don’t know how long I’ve been out of the loop, but there’s a new (to me) word that has been coined to describe yet another public relations tactic perceived to be self-serving and just short of repugnant. That word is “slactkvism.”
According to the Urban Dictionary (that you can contribute to if you want – it’s a kind of wiki), the term first appeared in 2003 and they define it as follows…
…The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.
Evidently, at lest according to Anne Landman’s blog on PR Watch, much of what PR people do in the name of corporate sponsorship would fall into that category. Indeed, she believes that cause-related marketing falls into this category. She does, however, allow that “most slacktivist individuals are probably genuinely well-meaning people who just don’t take the time to think about the value, or lack thereof, of their actions. They’re looking for an easy way to feel like they’re making a difference, and let’s face it — how damaging is it anyway to wear a rubber wristband or slap a magnetic ribbon on your car?”
I agree with her, though that we cannot dismiss this too lightly. Are our so-called good deeds on behalf of clients and employers nothing more than window-dressing? I’d wager that on many, if not most occasions, that is spot on.
From an ethical perspective, it would be in our best interests both personally and professionally to adhere to one of the pillars of ethical public communication: Do good. That means doing real ‘good’ for the community, not the kind of ‘good’ that gets the high profile headlines. Look around. I think there may be more for us to do than slapping yet another ribbon on another product.