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Iran's PR problem

by Daniel M Pourkesali


Just Ask Sara Palin!

Let's face it; Iran has a major public relations problem when it comes to its perceived image around the world particularly here in the west.


Public relations or PR is the management of information flow from an individual, an organization or an entire government to its target audience. Those working in PR are called publicists who are often scored on how best they can present an individual, a company or in this case a government in good light to the rest of the world.  Good PR can not be accomplished without establishing even a better relationship with credible media, both foreign and domestic, who are responsible for selling it to the public.  


Judging from the universally unenthusiastic if not outright negative perception of Iran, it is time that its publicists, namely those who represent Iran in various international arenas, finally realized some of their vast shortcomings. As with any other high-profile company when portrayed in negative light it relies on its public relations people to quickly spring into action, take the offensive and perform competent and efficient "damage control". 


There is a Persian proverb that states 'Sokoot alamat-e rezaast' or 'Silence is sign of approval'. When it comes to PR, silence or a haphazard inappropriate response is outright detrimental. Following is an example of an Iran PR hit followed by one of colossal disaster.


US Navy Encounter in the Strait of Hormuz


Iran's quick release of its own video taken on the morning of Sunday, January 6th  2008 in the Strait of Hormuz, promptly discredited Pentagon's hype of depicting a routine patrolling operation by the Iranian Navy as an act of unfathomable aggression against the United States. Taken completely off guard by that timely reaction, the story was hurriedly changed and the entire incident blamed on a phantom prankster given the name of 'Filipino Monkey'.


"Wiped off the Map" remark regarding Israel


At the Ministry of Interior conference on Wednesday October 26th, 2005 newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program titled "The World Without Zionism" repeated a quote from the late Ayatollah Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism: "Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad" which when properly translated from Persian reads:  "Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". 


Note there were no references to Israel, wipe off, or map. He then proceeded to accentuate that quote by listing examples of three such 'regimes' that had since collapsed or vanished in the last 30 years: The Shah and his monarchy, The Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.


Ironically, the wrong translation containing the seditious "wiped off the map" quote was disseminated by Iran itself. Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) used this phrasing in the English version of some of its news releases which was quickly picked up by the International media without verifying its accuracy. Virtually every media outlet has published this false statement and every political pundit continues to repeat it on a daily basis. Most if not all of the pro-war camp's case against Iran's nuclear program is based on the lie that it has vowed to physically 'wipe out' Israel.


For the wellbeing sake of its 70 million people, the Iranian government must show more sensitivity to foreign opinion polls and do a far better job of protecting its perceived international image.  Canon's success of its most profitable ad campaign in company's history "Image is Everything" was attributed to the fact that in today's image conscious world, style and packaging do win over content and substance.


Just ask Sarah Palin.

... Payvand News - 09/18/08 ... --

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