PR in the Global Village

The industry of Public relations was redefined with the advent of the Internet and Social Media and "exchanged" the market of Influence for the Global Village

In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive, the survival of companies reigns.

PR agencies abandon the traditional techniques of the 20th century, such as the delivery of press releases, and evolve to Communication models adapted to the new environment of the Global Village.

But where does the concept of Global Village come from?

The world is a village

The idea of a Global Village dates back to a great communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan, 50 years ago.

“These new media of ours … have made our world into a single unit. The world is now like a continually sounding tribal drum, where everybody gets the message… all the time.”



Marshall McLuhan’s statements rumble like a thunder in the 60s society. At a time when television was going through its infancy and the personal computer was just a distant dream, the researcher foresaw the world’s connectivity.

But McLuhan’s ideas don't stop here.

By stating that the figure of the “book” was no longer in a predominant place, the researcher also foresaw how youth would facilitate the change of the press paradigm for the electronic sphere.

At the time of this interview for CBS, McLuhan worked on his first book, The Gutenberg Galaxy, which would be published in 1962.

This work, along with many others, would bring to light several theories that would change the way we see technology forever.

McLuhan gives the name of “media” to all traditional media that disseminate information, such as speech, the press, or the visual arts.

In addition, to the researcher, media are extensions of the human senses such as clothing is an extension of the skin and the wheel an extension of the foot.

Marshall McLuhan would eventually be the father of expressions such as “Global Village” and “the medium is the message.”

A new era

The invention of the Gutenberg press had placed the predominance of the visual over the oral culture. However, the advent of technological media would replace the visual and printed culture by oral culture.

For the theorist, new technologies – which would allow instant communication – would remove geographic barriers and create a Global Village.

This new era would allow Mankind to organize itself into tribes, watching the passage of individualism to a collective identity – the so-called Global Village.

Unknowingly, McLuhan foresaw instant communication and the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, such common scenarios today.

“Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned,” wrote Marshall McLuhan, in Understanding Media, 1964.

McLuhan’s concepts would be revolutionary in his time.


The researcher relied on television to support that the medium itself had as much influence on the spectator as the message it transmitted.

Later, scientific studies would confirm the spectators’ passivity who watch television programmes.

McLuhan’s work would focus on the impact of communication technologies on culture. His work The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, from 1951, was established as the pioneering study of the field we now call popular culture.

His contributions to communication theory earned him the titles of “cult hero” and “high priest of pop culture.”

The Global Village had come to stay.

PR in evolution

With the world in the palm of our hand, the question that is imposed on us is how the Communication disciplines have appropriated this notion of McLuhan.

The phrase “Think globally, act locally” never had such impact.

The smallness of the world did change the ways of thinking of companies and organisations. Information began to flow freely and the access to these streams has become possible anywhere in the world.

And Public Relations have adapted to these new currents of this great flow that the Global Village has provided.

“What can I do to appear in the first results page of Google search? This is, for some time, the 1 million euro question in the digital marketing world,” states Luís Paixão Martins.

Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become one of the great approaches, trying to answer the questions imposed by the fast-paced world of the Internet.

Never search engines like Google had so much importance to organisations.

In a real pursuit for success, not being on the network means to be forgotten, or even simply to not exist.

The discipline of ORM consists on the monitoring of a brand, organisation, territory, protagonist or subject in the online medium, and the respective intervention, in order to contribute to a relevant, factual online presence that meets the Communication objectives.

A major evolution concerning the way Public Relations had been practiced before.

Today, the process is so natural that we forget that all this communication concept emerged long ago, when there was still no Internet.

Marshall McLuhan’s ideas penetrated the way in which we, in the Global Village, think about technology and media in such a way that we are not often aware of the revolutionising effect of its concepts, at its first introduction.

The theorist created this idea of an integrated planetary nervous system that is so rooted in our popular culture that, when the Internet had finally arrived to Global Village, it seemed more like an event from the natural order of things, and not the fantastic advent it really is.

Public Relations have evolved to adapt to the mind-blowing pace of the current media system.

A media system developed in a world where barriers are blurred and the information travels at a speed never achieved before.

Welcome to the Global Village.