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Action taken for public relations (PR); usually contrived to create a false impression of good will or concern.

Most people in positions of great power are basically sociopaths who don't care about the suffering their greed- and ego-driven rampages cause. But if it were generally known that they think general suffering is hilarious, they'd be less effective at causing more.

For this reason, the truly powerful have frontmen, like political functionaries, who pretend to have power, and pretend to care about doing good stuff. They can do stuff like fly to the Gulf of Mexico and make speeches about how they're going to help people affected by the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and while it fools very few people, it's at least moderately inoffensive.

PR moves are used by the powerful to make themselves look benign, indispensable, hardworking, smart, badass, serious, compassionate, respectful of the law, concerned about the rise of evil shit, blue-collar, in touch with the people, talented, far-sighted, thoughtful, devout, patriotic, global, or cool.
One of the more successful PR moves of the oil industry was Chevron's "People Do" campaign. In this campaign, a series of television commercials and magazine ads showed a beautiful landscape with sea otters or giant turtles, and voice over talking about some thing Chevron did to help them out. Except the things Chevron said it was doing to help the environment, were (a) cheap, relative to the cost of blabbing about it, (b) usually mandated by law or consent decree, and (c) required to mitigate some larger environmental catastrophe caused by Chevron.
by Primus Intra Pares July 15, 2010
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