PR mercenaries should be profoundly ashamed! [Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)]
(Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) AS always, a pithy, perceptive piece by Anwar Abdulrahman ('Don't leave our PR relations in the hands of PR mercenaries') which goes to the kernel of the problem and should profoundly embarrass the well paid named PR firms and their hirers alike on their 'lack of delivery.'
I would go even further and say that all too often there is confusion between Public Relations and working with the media for no, the two are not mutually interchangeable. As pointed out in the article, the PR focus is always "spin" and that is why so many working journalists avoid PR firms and 'placed articles' like the plague.
The task is not just to present things in a rosy light, it is to turn around prominent working journalists to hopefully show more balance in their reporting - working with them to show what is really happening in Bahrain before they shoot off highly critical articles, not banning them from entry. Turning around key critics and so their loaded language (eg, describing the demonstrators as being 'pro-democracy' or seeing the Molotov cocktail throwers for the 'thugs' that they are) does take time. There is a need to build confidence that they can get speedy access to a government spokesman who is open, candid (especially about government short-comings) and who doesn't attempt to do a snow-job full of spin. 'Burn' most journalists, and they are against you for life! Turn round key journalists and the pack will follow. Bring journalists to Bahrain as guests of the government but give them free and unencumbered access to whomever they want to see without a heavy-handed security presence and if the government's case is good - as it is - then in time there will be more balance to articles. Many countries already run such programmes as a pro-active measure, and not just for 'tame journalists' whom the reading public regard with scorn.
As for diplomats working the media in their host countries, it is standard operating procedure and should have been happening long ago. Newspaper editors are amongst the first calls an ambassador makes when taking up their appointment and every effort is made to cultivate that relationship so that in a 'worst case' of a media attack on a country, the newspaper will always give the ambassador a speedy right of respond before going to press. Too many response efforts have been far too slow and when a story 'grows legs,' it is often very difficult to run it down. Media not PR
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