The Bush administration has decided to create a permanent, fully staffed "Office of Global Communications" to "coordinate the administration's foreign policy message and supervise America's image abroad, according to senior officials," writes Karen DeYoung. The office will allow the White House "to exert more control over what has become one of the hottest areas of government and private-sector initiatives since Sept. 11.
Guatemala remains of the most horrifying legacies of the work of Edward Bernays, the legendary "father of public relations." On behalf of the United Fruit company, Bernays orchestrated the propaganda behind a military coup that overthrew Guatemala's elected government, ushering in decades of tyranny under regimes whose brutality rivaled the Nazis as they condemned hundreds of thousands of people (mostly members of the country's impoverished Maya Indian
"The United States is doing a poor job of countering growing anti-American sentiment overseas and must revamp the way it promotes its foreign policies abroad, the Council on Foreign Relations contends," the New York Times writes. "In a report to be released this week, the council asserts that many countries, in particular predominantly Islamic ones, see the United States as 'arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue.' ...
"The Union of Myanmar, which is ruled by a ruthless military junta, has retained Washington, D.C.-based DCI Assocs. to improve its relationship with the U.S.," trade publication O'Dwyer's PR writes. "DCI is to brief members of the Bush Administration and Congress that the former Burma is now committed to democracy and human rights. It also wants to be considered a foot soldier in President Bush's so-called 'war on terror.' DCI received a $100,000 retainer from Myanmar in early April, which will cover work through July 15. It will then bill Myanmar $35K a month. ...
Entegra Corporation, a "provider of reputation risk management software," sponsors a daily email bulletin called "Today's Reputation Briefs" -- news items about "TODAY'S highly publicized issues and incidents that could affect your organization's reputation TOMORROW." To subscribe, send an email to email@example.com.
"What's good for big business is good for the earth," proclaims the EarthSummit.biz web site, which is spoofing corporate greenwashing in the buildup to the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, scheduled for August of this year. EarthSummit.biz is accepting nominations for "Green Oscars" -- "the world's premiere awards for those acting green" -- to "dramatize the lack of real progress by the world's governments at two Earth Summits in holding corporations accountable for their environmental and social behavior."
Tompaine.com has run an opinion page advertisement in the New York Times decrying the FBI's recent PR campaign to improve its image in the wake of now public disclosures that it dropped the ball in regard to the 9/11 terrorist attacks: "Americans are entitled to a full accounting of the problems at FBI headquarters -- Who is responsible? Who will be held accountable? Using public relations tactics to change the subject and to defuse the political consequences short-circuits needed reforms and does the nation a disservice."
Writing for the New Republic, Jonathan Chait humorously deconstructs White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's spin tactics, which he first encountered when Fleischer represented Republicans on he House Ways and Means Committee. "Fleischer has a way of blindsiding you, leaving you disoriented and awestruck," he writes. "Much of the time Fleischer does not engage with the logic of a question at all. He simply denies its premises - or refuses to answer it on the grounds that it conflicts with a Byzantine set of rules governing what questions he deems appropriate.
"Lauri Fitz-Pegado, the former Hill and Knowlton staffer who promoted the story about armed Iraqi troops tossing Kuwaiti babies out of their incubators - one of the biggest PR stories of the `90s - is now handling PR for the Cayman Island Cultural Center in New York," noted O'Dwyer's PR Daily on May 28. "H&K, on behalf of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait front group of exiled royals, produced a 15-year-old girl 'Nayirah' who testified that she saw Iraqi troops committing the atrocity in a Kuwaiti hospital. She testified before the Congressional Human Rights caucus in Oct.
Activists looking for alternatives to the seemingly overwhelming power of corporate PR may find some useful guidance from tthe SPIN (Strategic Press Information Network) Project. SPIN provides training, media strategizing, and resources to help grassroots activists expand their capacity to influence public opinion and garner positive media attention.