Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Publicity, Propaganda or PR -the Cliveden set don't know

About a dozen propaganda and psyops specialists met at Cliveden, Berkshire, last week to discuss how America and its allies can use strategic communications more effectively in the War on Terror reports The Times.

Its a big bucks business.

The United States Government is thought to have earmarked at least $400 million (£213 million) since September 11, 2001, to enlist private companies to supply skills and ideas for an information war, covering propaganda and psychological operations (psyops).

These advisers are bringing corporate ideas to the military. Rebranding is one example.

Call a dog a different name because its mission has changed seems to be the BIG idea (wow1).

This is propaganda. In an age of social media it is simple an AK47 aimed at a delicate part of the anatomy.

Another corporate idea is the use of the chief executive as the voice of persuasion during a crisis (wow2).

The Times reports:

Nancy Snow, of the University of Southern California, who is a former propagandist for the US State Department, said: “There has been too much emphasis on having the President as persuader-in-chief and it isn’t working because he lacks credibility, especially abroad.” (wow3)

The information war experts also pointed out that private companies were motivated by the need to win short-term contracts, while military goals were long term (wow4).

This is publicity. It stems from scream marketing, a practice well known to command and control freaks.

Well what a surprise!

What I am trying to find in all this is Public Relations.

The critical thing here is that there is a need for grown up public relations. This requires a clear understanding of the goals and ambitions of the governement (s) involved followed by research, planning strategy development, testing, monitoring and tactical application that is constantly monitored in the creation and flowering of relationships among many stakeholder groups all of which are interconnected.

The reason that the government cannot get a public relations person to prepare and execute a plan is that the client is awash with ego and bumbling about with sound bites delivered with 'personality'.

Lloyd-Webber would be a better option than a PR consultant. At least we would have tunes instead of the noise of a washing machine behind the spin.