Edward Snowden Keeps His PR Cool

 Edward Snowden Keeps His PR Cool

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Edward Snowden.

He’s an international hero, a whistleblower fighting the good fight against Big Brother! He’s a villain, a spy, a traitor exposing US secrets to those who would harm the nation! Whichever you believe, apparently Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who has been exposing intelligence gathering secrets for the US National Security Agency, isn’t embracing any role that the media, government officials, or his supporters are creating for him. “I don’t want the story to be about me,” Snowden has said. “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

The media frenzy about Snowden, and whether he’s good or evil, has been fueled by no shortage of people willing to pick sides. Even Snowden’s own father appeared on Fox News asking his son to stop leaking sensitive information about the government’s spying practices.

Yet, despite his nearly folkloric status, as well as the US’s embarrassment at not being able to find him, Snowden hasn’t taken any opportunity to boast to his supporters or to taunt his detractors. His contact with the media has been limited to staying on-brand with a simple message: I am not a traitor and I am not a hero.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Edward Snowden, holding PR steady in a media environment that wants him to take sides.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Stay true to your message. When that message is volatile, don’t get bogged down in public, or political, opinion. Ideas about what Snowden is doing vary wildly, and he’s had every opportunity to get lost in that spaghetti sauce – which would only dilute his message. By standing firm on his purpose, Snowden’s motives stay unquestioned sans vainglory.  That’s one secret definitely worth sharing.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (GOLD STAR!) TO: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. Nothing beats a ringing endorsement, and Warren Buffet threw his PR weight behind Dimon by recommending him as Secretary of Treasury when Tim Geithner finally hangs up his boots. For Dimon, whose halo has arguably faded over the last 12 months, this was a shot in the arm for an unofficial campaign that still has him denying he wants the job anyway. As an outspoken banker against regulation, Dimon’s PR image has also endured the recent fracas of the London Whale losses and headlines relating to  manipulation of the energy market. However, Saint Warren’s benediction minimizes those sins. A smart move in what might be a long running campaign.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO: Susan Rice. The UN Ambassador likely has grill marks on her suit from the intense inquisition–er, questioning being administered by John McCain and Lindsey Graham in a bid to stop her nomination as Secretary of State. At issue: What Rice knew, when she knew it, and if she even knew anything at all about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Rice is currently being forced into a game of who-said-what with the CIA. The Administration gets an “F”  for failing to characterise this entire issue as an operational failure and instead allowing its opponents to claim it as a policy issue.  If Rice does ultimately get the job, monitoring warring nations will seem a comparative piece of cake.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Gennifer Flowers. The former model and actress who said she had a long-term affair with Bill Clinton in 1992 was recently consulted by an ABC affiliate for comment on the David Petraeus affair (because…she’s an expert on politicians’ dalliances?). During the interview, Flowers took full credit for Clinton’s presidential nomination, saying that her damning press conference “made him a household name overnight.” Good to know at last how he really ascended to the presidency.

Paula Broadwell: The Invisible “Other Woman”

 Paula Broadwell: The Invisible Other Woman

The PR Verdict: “B” for Paula Broadwell and her PR strategy of morphing from the “other woman” to the “invisible woman.”

Any guesses as to what life is like at the home of Paula Broadwell? For anyone who has missed the latest  “spy who loved me” headlines, Broadwell is the scholar, athlete, and biographer who has been named as the “other woman” in the life of now-retired general David Petraeus. Fooling around with Broadwell cost Petraeus his job as head of the CIA. We assume he will bounce back, but what of her?

It’s not yet clear where and when the headlines will stop. Apparently the FBI came across Petraeus’s indiscretion while investigating emails that Broadwell sent to a third party. Broadwell, in an apparent fit of jealousy, allegedly threatened another woman via email who, because the emails allegedly concerned the head of the CIA, reported it to the FBI. Some weeks later the career of the Chief Spook was over.

It’s not clear what Broadwell should do now. Is it time for her to set the record straight? As a forty-year-old mother of two, she presumably wants to preserve her credibility. Her previously well-received biography of Petraeus is now viewed with cynicism and Broadwell’s new uncomfortable fame is as Petraeus’s nemesis. If she talks, it will only add fuel to the fire.

The PR Verdict: “B” for Paula Broadwell and her PR strategy of morphing from the “other woman” to the “invisible woman.”

The PR Takeaway: Wait until the smoke clears. Sometimes the only thing to do is lay low and wait for better visibility.  At the moment, l’affaire Petraeus remains highly volatile. With new parties being added to the mix and congressional hearings still to take place, Broadwell needs to maintain maximum flexibility. Having disappeared entirely from public view, the media is on the lookout for her, but for the moment the best advice is to resist any temptation to set the record straight and be completely incommunicado. It’s better to read the press coverage from the comfort of a getaway location. Now is not the time for visibility.