Tuesday, June 13, 2006

PR by Suicide 

Every PR practitioner by now has read the unfortunate quote from a senior US State Department official that three suicides in the prison at Guantanamo Bay were a "good PR move." By those lights, the shelling of Palestinians on the Gaza beachfront by the Israelis was a bad PR move.

The statement was not only regrettable, it revealed something about the official who said it. For this official, human action is symbolic. There is no other meaning. There is no despair. There is no anger. There is no personal rebellion against conditions in which one is thrust. Killing oneself is simply a way to rally the troops through a compelling publicity stunt.

It's possible and maybe, even probable. But the worst PR is to identify it as that, especially in light of conditions under which the prisoners were held with little recourse to lawyers or justice. The quote only served to enrage Arab nations who don't need any more provocation.

The quote should go down as one of the dumbest PR moves of the war.


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