Did The Dalai Lama Really Want To Share That?

dalai lama21 Did The Dalai Lama Really Want To Share That?

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Dalai Lama

Does the Dalai Lama have a PR? Watching his interview on CNN, the most likely response is no.  Or if he does, is there some deliberate policy afoot to connect with the public in a different way?  Wednesday’s interview with host Piers Morgan was affable enough but may have left some of his admirers and followers wondering.

In a wide-ranging interview he discussed China, free speech, and ongoing protests by Tibetans.  Describing the death of recent protestors as “very sad” he urged China to be more realistic when addressing issues of civil unrest.  He also praised the Arab spring in principle, saying it was “very good”.  Fine so far.

Then came the more personal questions asked of His Holiness.  While celibate, he conceded he looks at women and thinks, “that’s very nice”.   If tempted, he reminds himself, “I am a monk – I am always a monk.”   Surprisingly, among the people he admires most, is George W. Bush.  “Some of his policies may not be very successful,” the Dalai Lama conceded, “but as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him.”  Who knew?

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Dalai Lama and the mystique of a spiritual leader.  Accessibility and everyday observations, while making him approachable, inevitably distract from solemnity and gravitas.

PR Takeaway:  Gravitas depends on a certain level of inaccessibility.  It’s a tough call to be a spiritual leader while also being available for a lengthy friendly interview.  The Pope and Queen Elizabeth learnt this long ago.  Disclose little about oneself, and then only rarely.  Above all keep it high level.  As soon as a chatty interview strays into “loving” a still-polarizing former US president, the relationship between His Holiness’s followers and who they might imagine him to be,  inevitably changes.  What would the Pope and the Queen tell Piers in their interview?

To read and see parts of the interview click here.

What’s your PR Verdict on the interview?

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TIME’s PR Pitch for Person of the Year

timepersonoftheyear TIMEs PR Pitch for Person of the YearGiven the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Russian electoral and European austerity protests, TIME’s decision to award “The Protestor” as its Person of the Year Award is perfect timing.

What gave TIME’s announcement extra resonance was context.  In the last twenty years, TIME claimed in its PR blitz, mass protest had given way to individual on-line activism.  Large-scale effective street protests had become a “global oxymoron”. That all changed this year, went the PR pitch, when the “protester once again became a maker of history.”

While some may dispute the analysis, TIME’s context helped sell the story globally.

The PR Verdict:  “A Plus” for TIME Magazine. Not only for its choice but its packaging.

A challenge in selling any story is to place it in a context that goes beyond the event itself.  TIME positioned the return of the protestor in an historical context and moved the discussion beyond the now predictable conversation about the power of online networks to mobilize. Unifying seemingly unrelated protests under a contextual umbrella made sure this story got maximum air time. And by aligning itself with “history”, TIME  emphasized its status as the magazine of record.

To see the Editor of TIME talk about the award click here.