The Syrian regime continues to attack its citizens. We hear reports of more than 5,000 people dead already, including hundreds of children. Medical supplies are dwindling and torture is rampant, even the UN admits that it can’t keep track of the death toll. This bloodthirsty Syrian administration has ruled for many years, largely to world indifference. Yet, over the same period of time, Israel has faced far worse media criticism than its northeastern neighbor. We see extensive media coverage of Syria – which until this uprising, had generally been positive or neutral. In stark contrast, Israel, the only democracy in the region, continues to be the target of negative media coverage.
Some key observations on the media focus on Syria:
- Recently, a hacker group released hundreds of e-mails from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office, which revealed, amongst other things, a document preparing Assad for his December 2011 interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters. Unlike Israel, Syria actually listens to communications professionals.
- Professor David Lesch urged Syria to hire a U.S. PR firm for a two-year engagement at $150,000 per month. Lesch thinks that the firm could “improve the image of Syria and President Bashar in the United States, and help with other forms of cooperation.”
- Upon further research, one learns that Syria hired an international public-relations agency, Brown Lloyd James to coordinate a Vogue Magazine profile and photo shoot for Asma al-Assad, Syria’s First Lady. The glowing profile, and stunning full- page picture entitled: “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert” was published at the same time as the Syrian government butchered anti-regime protesters.
- As David Kenner, an associate editor for Foreign Policy Magazine, noted, “The article does not once mention the protests currently underway in the Middle East, including scattered evidence of demonstrations in Syria. Instead, the article focuses on Syrian First Lady Asma Assad — the ‘freshest and most magnetic of first ladies, endowed with ‘[d]ark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace.” Frankly, a good crisis PR agency is able to shape articles – highlighting the positives, ensuring that negatives won’t be included in media articles. It’s what we are paid to do.
- This same company, Brown Lloyd James, worked in the past to boost the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi. They said, “…we assisted the Libyan government in its efforts to reach out to the international political community through the United Nations and to the U.S. political and university community.”
- Terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah, and certain Arab nations have hired PR agencies to lobby for them in the press and on the world stage. Terror groups have engaged reporters and journalists, shared meals and drinks with them and won their favor.
- Fenton Communications, a New York City–based PR firm, signed two contracts with the Arab state of Qatar to develop a campaign to essentially delegitimize Israel by orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Fenton Communications also works for “Al Fakhoora,” a Qatar-based pro-Palestinian initiative that has “launched an advocacy campaign to file legal charges against Israel and change the public perception in the West about its actions.”
- The PLO Mission in the U.S hired Bell Pottinger, a leading International PR agency to provide “advice on strategic communications, public relations, media relations and congressional affairs.”
- U.S. PR giant Burson–Marsteller, in response to Israel’s request for a meeting, said: “We will not deliver tender to such a project… we are running a commercial venture. If we accept this project, this will create a great amount of negative reactions…Israel is a particularly controversial project.”
While many pay lip service to the awful state of Israel’s image, Israel doesn’t use PR agencies in the United States. There’s a reason the Arabs win in the media — they hire communications professionals.
As Syria brutally murders its citizens, and Hamas kills Westerners, Public Relations pros help them sell their stories. Needless to say, regardless of the price tag, 5WPR won’t assist these nations – but many of our competitors make millions selling terror and brutality.