Saturday, 30 January 2010

Blogging in Social Media

The successful blogs are written to connect, help and gain information. Blogs that contain informative and knowledgeable content and address real issues are read and passed along to others as credible. However there has been a noticeable increase in reporters where journalists pick up a piece of a story through social media and run it with whatever is out there without checking the credibility. This is how the profession becomes a defence, and the PR becomes the ‘bad guy’ again in the world of media. This comes from company’s leaks and are much more difficult to stop. Once this happens the PR practitioners only chance to correct this is to come forward before every piece of the story is ready for the public, which leads it back to the perception of PR being illegitimate. It also means that stories with major publications will not be newsworthy, as the leaks sometimes contain inaccurate information resulting in journalists lose their interest in the story once they realise they no longer have an exclusive.

For many years PR has been fighting to be credible, by using new media it is easy for everyone to access and post information, which means in order for the information to be credible the readers need to spend more time on researching in order to be reinsured that the information is reliable. In the book "Flat Earth News" Davis is talking about how naive the readers are when reading a newspaper, which most readers believe to be credible news, but how can they know better when the journalist many times run a story with out themselves knowing how credible the information is.

Will blogging be a positive or negative tool for PR? At this particular time during recession, blogs are here to financially support the communication channels. Everything mentioned in this report suggest that there is more pros for the social media and blogs, however as everything else, it has its own downsides.

After talking about social media, it sounds like traditional media is no longer relevant. It is not true, media is critically important for many organisations. A positive story in the Guardian or an article in the Financial Times will still bring more publicity to any company than any web-blog. Blogs as a trend is here to stay and there is much that the PR industry can achieve by using social media and its channel of communication. Blogging may change the nature of PR as an industry and it could perhaps take it to a new way of building relations with the public, a way that is not only direct and honest but one that includes responsibility. What will happen with social media and PR in the future? Social media era is here and PR needs to adapt and follow its trends.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Propaganda in Russia

After watching the “War Spin” by BBC, I thought about how Russia uses propaganda. Next year the Russian government will spend $1.4 billion (£866m) on international propaganda – more than on fighting unemployment. Kremlin has a 24-hour English language TV channel, Russia Today (RT), they broadcast to everywhere in the world, In January RT launched a Spanish service aimed at Latin America, a region of growing Kremlin geopolitical interest; RT already broadcasts in Arabic. The Kremlin employs two major PR agencies, Ketchum and GPlus, and in London uses Portland PR. And then there are the angry bloggers – a shadowy army of Russian nationalists who are active on western newspaper websites, including the Guardian. Anyone who dares to criticise Russia’s leaders, or point out some of the country’s deficiencies, are immediately branded a CIA spy or worse.

The Russian government uses all of its recourses to change the perception of the new ‘democratic’ country, after many years of soviet time. However they are doing it in a very aggressive way to show how powerful the country is. Perhaps they are doing their job, as many are afraid of Russia, however this concludes in a vicious circle where they want to achieve a good reputation but want everyone to be afraid of them. Evgeny Morozov from diplomacy department of Georgetown University’s, who is writing a book on how authoritarian regimes are exploiting the internet, said the Kremlin was taking a more “aggressive” approach following last year’s war in Georgia. An armed conflict started in August 2008 between Georgia and South Ossetia. The Russian and western media had very different view on this situation. The same images and footage clips were used when reporting news, however the western world was showing how it was the Russians attacking Georgia where as in Russia we saw how the Russians were protecting Ossetia against the sudden Georgian invasion.

From the Russian media the information was that the Russian peacemakers were attacked in South Ossetia, many died, because they did not have weapons, as they were there to keep peace under control. The western media reported that it was Russians attacking Georgia and how bad the Russian government dealt with the situation. After the five day war, Russia was accused of using propaganda and controlling the media to say that they were defending them selves and many in the western world believed that it was a cover up to get in to Georgia. The media confusion came from that both sides were accusing each other of who started the fire first. In war no one is right, as innocent people are dying despite the fact of who started the fire first.

During the war the western world was on Georgia’s side, Russia was in trouble in terms of convincing its public that they were not the bad guys. There was a strong media control about what was said internationally, as the last thing Russian government wanted was doubt from its public. Some of the news slogans were: "Georgia erases the country from face of the earth, Russia inputs the troops" or "Russia offers an ultimatum for the Georgian troops". People have perception with words and slogans, by using these examples Russia looks like saviors and that they are trying to make peace with Georgia.

When observing the media analysis worldwide, it is possible to spot the mutual classical slogans and easy assessments, not always accurate. As soon as the clashes began in South Ossetian capital, anti-American propagandists rushed to accuse the Bush Administration of "pushing President Mikheil Saakshvili to perform an attack destined to weaken the Kremlin." Other more sinister charges linked the Georgian move to a US "interest in Oil pipelines." Similar to the 9/11 conspiracy theories these allegations were also found in some Russian unofficial commentaries. But opposing narratives spoke of a "Putin offensive to expand Russian power southbound after years of weakness." Many stories accused the Kremlin of simply trying to "re-occupy" former Soviet Republics.

Over a year after the European Union commissioned a report in which they report that states that it was Georgia who opened fire first. First after that the western media like the Wall Street Journal, which has published a fair amount of columns by the Georgian President Saakashvili, had a headline that read “Report: Georgia Triggered War With Russia”.

This time Russia turned out to have said the truth, however it is not always the case. The presidential order is not to say anything about the opposition, the financial crisis in Russia, repression of the freedom of speech and murder of journalists. This is how western world see Russian media communication. When a western journalist asked about Putin and Medvedev, a male journalist of the Russian state media replied: ‘they are heroes, strong men, my great examples. Men with great characters.’ To the same question Russian female journalists answer that they are the best-looking men they have ever known and that they would like to marry such men. The presidential order would be a great success for Russia, but unfortunately reality is different. Western media and the general public have already understood whom they are dealing with. This is the 21st century; the truth can no longer be kept secret as easily as in soviet times. However propaganda will be a big part of Russian media communication as the country is enormous and to have the world see the ‘new and improved’ Russia, that is what they believe is the right way, even when the rest of the world disagree with their way of dealing with the situation.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Freedom of Speech in Denmark

On September 30th 2005 a Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, posted 12 Muhammad cartoons as to announce that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. This has then later led to further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries, further extending the controversy. One other big Danish publication Politiken reprinted their version of the cartoons. These publications resulted in protest from Muslims living in Denmark and other Islamic countries (on the 22nd of February 139 were recorded dead because of the situation).

All this was happening because in Denmark media has freedom of speech. For four months radical Muslim organisations have unsuccessfully demanded government control. However, despite their pressure and the support they were receiving from international organisations such as the UN and the EU, the Danish government refused to call the newspaper to account. In this situation the government stands back pretending that they are not involved. However the whole situation was for Denmark to get publicity, as it happened after the US went to war with Iraq. Denmark is a small country that sits in the back and keeps to them selves. After the publications, all of the death threats and even murder attempts on the journalist started to happen, the Danish government as an ally with America assumed that the Americans would come and protect the country, which never happened. After they realised that, the Danish government and the media was forced to stick to their belief in freedom of speech and handle the situation on their own. The Danish government refused to interfere and limit the freedom of speech, as it will make them look weak and they want to be heard about their strong position.

But was it the right way to do so? The Danish government press knew what they were doing and what they will get out of publishing these cartoons. The government used the media to express their views through press, as they are the ones with freedom of expression.

The twelve drawings illustrated:

- The face of a man whose beard and turban were drawn within a crescent moon, and with a star (symbols normally used for Islam);

- The face of a grim-looking bearded man with a turban shaped like an ignited bomb;

- Five stylised female figures wearing headscarves, with facial features depicted as a star and a crescent moon. The caption reads: "Prophet! You crazy bloke! Keeping women under the yoke!";

- Two bearded men wearing turbans and armed with a sword, a bomb and a gun, running towards a third bearded wearing a turban. He is reading a sheet of paper and gesturing them to hold off, with the words: "Relax folks! It’s just a sketch made by an unbeliever from southern Denmark";

- A bearded man wearing a turban and carrying a sword, standing with a black bar covering his eyes. Two women are flanking him, wearing black gowns, with only their eyes visible;

- A bearded man wearing a turban, standing on clouds with arms outstretched, exclaiming: "Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!". Men in tatters with plumes of smoke over their heads queue up in front of him.