Crude propaganda shames public relations

I’ve been thinking about the public relations implications of the recent Iranian hostage situation involving British sailors/marines.  But Borkowski sums up my thoughts pretty well. 

I admire anyone who is prepared to put their life on the line in the services – and cannot imagine the pain of those who have lost friends or family members in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Whether or not the cause is just, these people are heroic in their sacrifice.

They have demonstrated true values and a dignity which is totally lacking in those caught up in the current debacle.  The press unsurprisingly come out of things pretty poorly, as do those who have taken money to “tell their story”.  Then there are the PR advisors (rumours of even ) who were undoubtedly involved in framing the version of  truth we’ve been spun in the last few days.  Plus the in-house PR teams within the services and government, who appear to have given such poor advice.

In propaganda terms, it is hard not to feel that the Iranian approach seems shrewder than the cruder British efforts.  The failure is not only measured in analysis of media coverage, but in ways that are more important – such as the reputations of young men and women who are prepared to leave their families not knowing if they will return. 

Some things should not be for sale – and public relations has been diminished by its role in this shambles.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “Crude propaganda shames public relations”

  1. I agree entirely with Mark’s view. The thing that amazes me is that this government is supposed to be good at media management. I would expect a brand new graduate to our firm to have better value judgement than to let the “hostages” sell their stories.

  2. David – thanks for your comment. I do wonder who is managing media relations at the highest level in government and the services currently. The PR person from the Navy I heard on television at the weekend seemed to be resigned that the stories would get out anyway. In this case, it seems public opinions expressed directly to the media, and particularly the reaction of bereaved service families, have been the only restraining factors.

  3. Perhaps managing media relations is the issue here. The idea that there is ‘control over the message’ is implicit. A generation ago perhaps but no more. I get weary saying it but the values and value systems seem to be missing. Typical press agentry in an era when ‘Governements’ fight wars about values they can not even articulate…..

    …. and the British values are……

  4. Good question Jill – so far those in media relations haven’t been directly criticised, and it seems unlikely any politician will resign when a reshuffle is a few weeks away. I’m sure a few careers in the services will be blotted though.

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