What is metadisciplinarity?

If a marketing consultant looks at a hole, she says it looks like a marketing-shaped hole. If a designer looks at the hole, he says the hole needs designing … and so on. Instead of starting off from the idea that problems come in pieces, and then tackling a piece (which one?), we think it is more interesting and effective to look at problems as wholes, all of which is affected by any part … Propagandum’s multifactorial analysis will suggest a variety of subtle and powerful solutions that can affect the company or system as a whole.

What does ‘industrial hermeneutics’ mean?

Deriving from the Greek word for interpretation, earlier folk etymologies associate hermeneutics with Hermes, the messenger of the gods, inventor of language and speech; Hermes is also a trickster who relishes ambiguity and (others’) confusion. In the Middle Ages hermeneutics was concerned to explain the meaning of the bible and, in John Milton’s words, ‘justify the ways of God to man’. Contemporary hermeneutics has been concerned with understanding how we might indeed say that we ‘understand’, given both the interconnection of the perceptions of the understander and the object of understanding. ‘Industrial hermeneutics’ is a Propagandum meme suggesting the idea of complex but purposeful, commercial and ethical kinds of understanding.

What do you mean by ‘the understanders’?

For many years the publishing industry has trusted editors to respond to new typescripts to shape and make them suitable for its market. Editors are experts in responding non-expertly; they act as proxies for readers/buyers. The separation of personal prejudice from objectivity – the ability to understand typical buyers’ responses – demands a highly developed sense of self-awareness that needs to be developed over many years. Outside the publishing industry this kind of insight is like gold dust, particularly for businesses so close to their product or service that they simply cannot see it the same way their customers do. In the real world, market research is expensive and slow. As David Ogilvy said, ‘The trouble with market research is that people don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say.’ Questions often elicit banal or irrelevant responses, and rarely suggest improvements. Respondees do not have the time or collaborative insight to engage with the product at the level of detail that leads to constructive outcomes. ‘Understanders’ are faster, cheaper, more creative and more positive. This is a core Propagandum service.

What does ‘Propagandum’ mean?

A company that says it knows about communications and creativity has to think hard about choosing a name. In the advertising world most agencies want to sound as reputable (?) as a firm of solicitors – think Saatchi and Saatchi. Web-based companies have to search for domain names without cybersquatters, hence short/weird names, often with spelling mistakes, such as Flickr, Prezi, Yahoo, Twitter and Google. Latin and invented Esperanto-sounding words such as Mondeo, Accenture and Consignia are (well, supposed to be) popular because their meaning is clear enough in many languages. New words are particularly easy to track in cyberspace via Google Alerts.

Propaganda was a Renaissance Latin word first used in its modern sense by the Vatican in 1622 when it founded what we would now call a PR and education outreach programme intended to spread the Catholic faith among the newly colonized peoples of the world. This organization was called Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, meaning ‘College for the Propagation of the Faith’. The simple and rather poetical metaphor here refers to the creation of new plants from old ones.

The military and ideological struggles of the twentieth century gave the word, at least in English, a partly negative connotation. This new meaning was in fact a brilliant tribute to the skill of the people creating and managing Allied and Western information: our version was the truth, but our enemies merely produced propaganda.

The world of Latin is has an aura of magic to it that works well in Harry Potter novels. Grammatically speaking, propaganda is a plural gerund (the part of a verb used as a noun). Agenda (things to be done) is a better-known example. See also referendum (something to be referred back) and memorandum (something to be remembered). Propagandum is therefore, by logic and invention, the singular form. In a post-Cold War world, we would like you to think of us as information gardeners, in a sense both rich and positive: ‘something to be grown’.

What are your technical credentials?

Of course we work with people who are technically very well qualified. A founding Propagandum principle, though, is that technology often gets in the way of communication. We are not opposed to technology in any way, but machines seem to seduce us into thinking of them as an end and not a means. Customers really don’t want to be technical to buy your product or service. We love technology that is well designed, effective and useful, but we won’t tell you how to do your technology strategy. We will tell you, if you are open-minded enough to want to hear it, whether your systems help you to communicate.

What do you at Propagandum believe?

Speak the truth and people will listen. Truth will out. There are many ways to tell the truth – a story is a kind of truth too. People remember and understand better when you communicate with them in the fullness of human perception and experience. The world is most mysterious because it is comprehensible.

If you know so much about business, why are you looking for work?

Ouch. Fair enough, if racing tipsters really knew when to back good horses, and if financial journalists always picked the right shares they wouldn’t be working for a living writing for newspapers. We think we know about communication but it isn’t everything. You – assuming you are one of our potential customers – needed daring and creativity to start your business, fierce determination to build it up, and intelligence to make it work. If you’ve read as far as here you’ve needed plenty of imagination to consider that what we do might be relevant. We simply try to add our different kinds of skills to yours. We’re building up our own business but we love helping other people too.

Why is your site on WordPress?

We love exquisite hand-built sites, but one of our site’s rationales is to show that we are not snobbish about these things. The excellent feature set for the cost (nothing) is unbeatable – why not use it?


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