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RE: Design and public opinion - fully on topic

From: "Robbins, Christopher" <christopher.robbins-AT-multexinvestor.co.uk>
Date: 13 Aug 2001 09:47:53 UTC   (05:47:53 AM in author's locale)
To: 'The Graphics List' <graphics-AT-lists.graphicslist.org>
That's a really interesting article. Where's the link to the original, so I
can link it for some others?



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-----Original Message-----
From: gregj [mailto:gregj-AT-dayspring.com]
Sent: 10 August 2001 18:18
To: The Graphics List
Subject: Design and public opinion - fully on topic

Below is a copied & pasted recent article about Israel's public relations
effort. Rather than trying to open a can of worms about who is on who's side
of the cause, note that this article is from a conservative perspective of
Israel's efforts. So, please view this from the "hmmmm, that's what THEY are
doing with professional communicators" perspective.

Here is a real-life example of a group hiring communicators with the goal of
shaping an opinion. A PR firm from NYC has been hired, and they are pursuing
a campaign effort that involves multiple media avenues. It may be
interesting to note, in this case, that posters and printed advertisments
would be just a piece of the whole puzzle. This firm is even making
recommendations to their client (the country, of course) to do things like
paint their rubber bullet-firing weapons orange as a cue to the world
watching media coverage that these are not live-firing weapons.

PRIMER: Just a thought, but if there would be any discussion about this
particular example, perhaps discussing the theory of strategy may be a more
worthwhile discussion than discussing whether or not the pr firm could be
successful in their efforts "because I feel this way or that about the

Relevant, at least...



Israel's Public Relations Initiative: Vital To Its Cause
By Carol Devine-Molin
August 6, 2001
(Printer-Friendly Version)

Spin control is crucial in this modern age of media hype and orchestrated
public attacks. As a nation perpetually under siege, Israel has smartly
hired one of New York City's premier public relation's firms, Rubenstein
Associates, in NYC, in order to favorably mold world opinion, via media of
all types including myriad print venues and broadcast news organizations.
This beleaguered nation seeks to create a positive image and accompanying
reputation, while simultaneously informing and persuading the international
community, especially in relations to its conflict with the Palestinians. As
a tiny sovereign entity surrounded by enemy Arab nations in the Middle East,
Israel is vitally dependent upon the cooperation and assistance of other
nations, most notably the United States and its salient financial support.
The struggle for Israel is no less than its quest for survival.

And what is essential for Israel to communicate to the international
community through the media? The Israelis must successfully convey the truth
of the matter that they are not only fighting for their lives, but for their
very existence as a nation as well, in an extremely hostile sector of the
world. Moreover, the Israelis must emphasize that they truly seek a peaceful
solution in the Middle East, within an atmosphere that guarantees its safety
and security, and that of the Palestinians, too. It must also be
definitively stated that Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat is palpably
disingenuous, a liar and promoter of terrorism, not a true peace partner in
the Middle East. And lastly, the Israelis must continue their appeal to the
world community, urging them to keep the pressure on the Palestinians to
change their ways and work toward peace, even withholding foreign aid monies
to the Palestinians, if necessary.

As indicated, Israel's battle with the Arab world must be waged not only "on
the ground" but also in the trenches of the media. Integral to their work,
public relations experts will ensure that "Israel's story" (its point of
view) is widely disseminated in an expansive effort to garner the upper hand
in the realm of worldwide opinion. Well-articulated, accurate and prompt
information from the Israeli team must be promulgated assiduously.
Furthermore, efforts to thwart Palestinian propaganda will be set in place,
systematically challenging mistruths and misrepresentations. Given its
ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, which poses the very real threat of
spinning out-of-control into regional warfare, crisis management and crisis
communication will undoubtedly continue to be the modus operandi of Israel's
PR firm. Eliminating or diminishing damage is key, with these communications
experts tackling problematic media situations head-on, not permitting them
to fester. Honesty and openness curries favor over the long haul among the
journalistic communities and worldwide public as well. No doubt, that is
what the Rubenstein organization aims to accomplish.

How do PR people effectively deal with negative stories and publicity out in
the press? When there is bad news that must be overcome, Democrat
spinmeister Lanny Davis is among the most proficient. Although this writer
disagrees with Davis' partisan viewpoint, and it is questionable whether
Davis always follows his own advice, his words nonetheless are insightful
and valuable. In his book, "Truth To Tell", Davis admonishes to "Tell it
early, tell it all, tell it yourself" as the best overall strategy to
deflect the effects of deleterious information that can hurt your side.
(Regarding the Condit-Levy case, or scandal du jour, note that Congressman
Gary Condit has not taken this path, and has instead engaged in a stream of
"rolling disclosure" that has proven to be a public relations debacle. He is
now viewed in an extremely suspicious light by the public, and as "acting
guilty". This risky tactic of "rolling disclosure", putting out tidbits of
information over time in order to desensitize the public to particularly
odious information, should be eschewed since it can terribly backfire).

In cases where the facts are potentially very damaging, and very
complicated, Davis recommends the use of a baseline or "predicate" story, to
be generated by an individual reporter or news organization. "The advantages
of the predicate story as a critical tool of damage control cannot be
overestimatedSIf it is complete and accurate, it will likely kill or at
least diminish follow-up stories, since there won't be much more to report".
On the other hand, Davis warns that if the information is "incomplete and
wrong", that it will grow "like a virus" causing tremendous difficulties.
Clearly, cultivating journalists is imperative in the media world, with
public relations people providing them with data and insights as to the
situation at hand, and answering all questions. In this way, it maximizes
the opportunity to get out the "interpretation or characterization of the
facts most favorable" to a particular camp or PR client.

Media images are profoundly powerful and often the fulcrum of public
relations efforts. Distressing scenes that grip the collective psyche have
viscerally impacted and mobilized nations. Who could forget harrowing
imagery such as the rescue worker carrying out the dead child at the site of
the Oklahoma City Bombing? Or how about the tragic and shocking sight of the
Somali warlord's minions dragging the naked bodies of our dead soldiers
through the streets of Mogadishu?

Clearly, massaging outgoing visual content is essential to any successful PR
campaign. The Palestinians have made significant inroads with videos and
photos ostensibly demonstrating the cruelty of Israeli soldiers beating down
upon a weak Palestinian population, which must defend itself with "rock
throwing" at elite Israeli forces. These distorted images have clearly hurt
the Israeli cause. In light of these representations, the Rubenstein firm
has suggested that Israeli rifles (that shoot rubber bullets) be painted
purple or orange to help television viewers understand that non-lethal
rounds are being fired at Palestinian rioters. It has also been recommended
that post-rioting areas be immediately cleaned up by the Israelis, thereby
depriving newsmen from a ready scene at which to tape. "The fire-scarred
street, which reaches a virtual dead-end at Israeli controlled territory, is
strewn with burned-out cars and littered shrapnelSa convenient backdrop for
television news crews based in nearby Jerusalem who need quick video to
illustrate an uprising" (Baltimoresun.com, 7/27/01). Although cosmetic in
nature, these represent helpful and practical advice by PR experts to
improve Israel's reputation.

An issue that is unfortunately resonating throughout the international
community, and also damaging Israel's image, is the nation's policy of
"targeted killing" of Palestinian terrorists. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
has spoken with world leaders noting that these actions actually save lives
and prevent terrorist activity that would escalate the overall conflict.
"Israel reserves the right to defend its citizens, just like the US, Sharon
told (Secretary) Powell, explaining that Israel's position would be
unnecessary if Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat would arrest
wanted terrorists" (Jerusalem Post website, 8/2/01). The United States has
issued a condemnation of Israel, citing the recent deadly strike upon
several Hamas members.

A few weeks ago, Israel was supported by Christian leader Pat Robertson
regarding its policy of surgical strikes against "known terrorists". He
stated, "Which is more righteous? To make war against one person who is an
architect of terror, or is it more righteous to wage war against an entire
population?" (Jerusalem Post website, 7/4/01). Clearly, Israel's PR efforts
must involve the participation of respected figures, coming to the forefront
and publicly buttressing the notion that only dangerous terrorists in the
act of perpetrating violent activities will be targeted for death. And it
must be impressed that the net effect would be to save many lives.

In conclusion, the media/communication effort to mold international opinion
is just another tool to be utilized by Israel in its ongoing battle with the
Palestinians, with military and diplomatic efforts representing other
strategic endeavors in the mix.

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