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Amazon vs. California

September 12, 2011

Many people would say that Public Relations is nothing but manipulating people to think one thing or another but I disagree, and here is why. Numerous amounts of people shop on, an online retailer that sells everything from books to general home items but, on September 9, 2011, it became public knowledge that Amazon would begin collecting sales tax within a year, something that was unheard of until California spoke up. It goes without saying that California has more than its fair share of debt. According to, the state is already $3.75 trillion in debt, a number that seems to be growing every second, but where does California fit into this? Well California got smart and realized that they could be receiving $200 million annually from Amazon if the company began applying sales tax. Needless to say, this could have become the battle from hell but, in my eyes, Amazon took the high road. Clearly the company was far from pleased with the law and tossed around ideas about fighting it but eventually came to a compromise. Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, made a comment about the compromise. He states, “It is pretty clear that Amazon would have won the referendum had it appeared on the ballot, but the amount of money it would have taken to win and what it could have done to a very hard-earned reputation among online consumers, was a downside that they apparently decided wasn’t worth taking on.” Public Relations is defined in every which way possible but the one thing that never changes is, the public. The times of propaganda have passed and now it is about informing and making the right choices.  Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker, once said “Keep your thinking right and your business will be right.” This is a great saying, but more importantly, a simple saying that gives insight into the whole purpose of Public Relations. Yes, when a company makes a mistake they call the PR people in to help smooth the waters but does that mean it’s a spin? No, it is about accepting the wrong doings of the past and righting the future. Now, in this scenario Amazon hasn’t made any past mistakes but they “kept their thinking right” and moved towards compromise instead of fighting. Though many of Amazon’s stakeholders will be disappointed in the change, I think it goes without saying that what Amazon is doing will really benefit California as a whole. I myself am from California and left due to how much debt it was in. The debt had overtaken my education and was making it next to impossible for me to graduate. I know that I am not the only one who longs to see the state returned to its former glory and look forward to seeing the results of Amazon’s compromise with the state. All in all, Public Relations is so much more than a spin but a way of opening people’s minds, bettering companies, and molding our future to be one of informed choices and superior actions.

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