After Taliban Shooting, Malala Is Still On Message

 After Taliban Shooting, Malala Is Still On Message

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) to Malala Yousafzai.

Before anyone knew her name, or even that she existed, Malala Yousafzai had a mission: that she, and other girls like her, should be able to go to school. A simple right for many, yet forbidden to Pakistani girls like Yousafzai by the Taliban. But the world came to know the young crusader on the day a Taliban soldier boarded a school bus, asked “Who is Malala?” and shot the then-11 year old in the face.

Miraculously, Yousafzai survived. Even from a hospital bed, she was undeterred and unintimidated. Her parents soon reported that she was requesting her schoolbooks so that she wouldn’t fall behind in her studies.

The now 16-year-old Yousafzai tells of the day she was shot, and what has happened since, in her book I am Malala, being released worldwide tomorrow. She has addressed the United Nations and become the youngest person to be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. Through it all, the girl who took on the Taliban at age 11 has stayed on message, on mission: “I was spared for a reason,” she writes. “To use my life for helping people.”

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) to Malala Yousafzai.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Don’t lose sight of your cause by becoming a celeb. Acts of heroism can be blurred by exposure in the limelight. If the mission is to become a star, as is the case with those who sign on for reality shows, then there’s no such thing as bad publicity. However, when the mission is of a humanitarian nature – say, fighting for the right for girls to be educated, against the edict of an oppressive regime – there’s a delicate balance between being the face of a movement and becoming a name. While no one may have known of Malala Yousafzai before she was nearly murdered by the Taliban, she makes sure her mission stays front and centre.

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Suzan Colon About Suzan Colon

Suzan Colon, The PR Verdict’s Content Editor, has written for magazines including O, the Oprah Magazine; Jane; Details; Rolling Stone; Harper’s Bazaar; and many other publications. She is the author of Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times (Random House). Suzan blogs for the Huffington Post and has appeared on The Today Show, The Early Show, and NPR. For more, visit suzancolon.net.

What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. She is an awe-inspiring figure at such a tender age. There was a lot of footage on TV about her visit to the UN, and all you saw was the radiance of her vision reflected in her face. AND THEN – on the other side, all those brave, courageous, terrorist men faces covered so no-one could tell who they are. Big, Brave, Bold, carrying guns against defenseless children. I wonder what their God will say when they die? They only changed the face of the world in such an ugly way, how can any God be pleased with that. Please God, the good amongst us will prevail, and we will all become Malala.

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