Pakistan's recent contract with Stirling Consulting for "media relations" work will include dealing with negative media stories, "stimulating" pro-Pakistan letters-to-the-editor, and enlisting Pakistani-American "message surrogates," Working for Change columnist Bill Berkowitz writes. "Recruiting 'message surrogates' is a classic example of what in PR lingo is called 'the third party technique,'" PR Watch's Sheldon Rampton told Berkowitz.
The Panama Canal Authority has a $1 million contract with Edelman PR Worldwide for "corporate communications" work, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. Edelman has "conducted a communications audit, provided media training, monitored the worldwide media and drafted materials for the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development for the PCA." The 88-year-old canal is in need of modernization, which could cost up to $8 billion. "U.S. officials also fear the Canal could be a terror target, a strike that would deal a severe blow to global commerce," O'Dwyer's writes.
Award-winning journalist Gary Webb was hung out to dry by his newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, after writing "Dark Alliance," which showed how the CIA and drug dealers fueled the epidemic of crack cocaine in Los Angeles in the 1980s. As the first Internet-based expose in journalism history, it was seen by millions worldwide, but caused such a firestorm of controversy that the paper's editor later apologized and shut down the website to keep the stories from ever being seen again.
Speakers at a recent symposium of the Public Relations Society of America said that "U.S. support for Israelis over Palestinians, President Bush's 'crusade' against the Taliban and the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia contribute to the rising anti-American sentiment in the Middle East," reports O'Dwyer's PR Daily. "According to Denise Gray-Felder, VP of communications for the Rockefeller Foundation, 'Americans persist in operating like a nation of ignorants.' She has noticed in her international travels that foreigners are far better educated on world affairs than U.S.
The US government is using The Rendon Group, advertising whiz Charlotte Beers and others to develop PR and ad campaigns to sway Muslim opinion toward the US. The first ads are being "greeted with skepticism," according to the New York Times. "Rawia Ismail, ...her head covered with an Islamic head scarf, appears in a US government video that will have its first public showing this week on national television here in [Indonesia]... 'I didn't see any prejudice anywhere in my neighborhood after Sept.
For insight into ways to promote better US-Arab relations, the Saudi Arabia-based Arab News interviewed Jim Cox of the Hill & Knowlton PR firm (which worked a decade ago to promote war in the Persian Gulf). "Saudi Arabia has a cadre of friends," says Cox, "who know, respect and value it in terms of business relationships and the culture of the Kingdom. The trouble is that cadre is very small.
"An Egyptian satellite television channel has begun teasers
for its blockbuster Ramadan series that its producers
acknowledge incorporates ideas from the infamous czarist
forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." That
document, a pillar of anti-Semitic hatred for about a
century, appears to be gaining a new foothold in parts of
the Arab world, some scholars and observers say."
The Canadian firm National PR inadvertently sent an email instructing Conservative members of the Ontario Parliament how to "undermine the Kyoto Protocol" to Liberal members who support the accord. The National Post reported the misdirected email caused "embarrassment for a government that has yet to take a clear stand on the international plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." National PR, which is partly owned by PR giant Burson-Marsteller, helped organize the anti-Kyoto front group the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions.
"It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not," states a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations. "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years the Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."
Seeking to "create a favorable image for the country," Pakistan will pay $600,000 for a year of media relations work, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. The recently formed Sterling International Consulting Corporation, based in Lansing, Michigan, will "root out negative stories" and provide journalists with "background, response and clarification." The PR firm is to find Pakistani-Americans willing to speak out on behalf of Pakistan. "Those 'message surrogates' will be given talking points and media training by SICC.