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.

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

mike mayo2 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR Perfect) to Mike Mayo (left) a financial analyst at Crédit Agricole Securities, for his perfectly crafted soundbite regarding beleaguered banking giant Citigroup. Mayo, well known on Wall Street, was opining on the reasons for the startling resignation of  Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. Speaking to the Financial Times, Mayo was crisp, concise, and so very on-point when he said, “Citi is too big to fail, too big to regulate, too big to manage, and it has operated as if it’s too big to care.” Zing!

 

taliban21 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to the Taliban, which sunk to new lows by targeting media outlets that denounced their murder attempt on Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who wants education for women. Apparently, the Taliban is furious that Yousafzai’s “un-Islamic” behavior hasn’t been presented in the press – as though that would justify her being shot in the face for wanting to go to school. Worried about the PR fallout in their own domestic markets, it’s gratifying to observe that even Islamo-Fascists worry about public perception. The Taliban in need of a rebrand; who would have thought? And where to begin?

 

brad pitt chanel 0 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

THE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD: The undisputed winner this week is fashion house Chanel, which has enlisted Brad Pitt for its new advertising campaign for its venerable fragrance, Chanel No.5. According to the PR blurb, the 30-second ad is meant to re-energize the 91-year-old brand with a “different point of view,” i.e., using a man to sell a fragrance for women. The commercial features Brad looking like he was plucked from a homeless shelter and saying, “The world turns, and we turn with it. Plans disappear, dreams take over. But wherever I go, there you are. My luck. My fate. My fortune. Chanel No. 5. Inevitable.”  The only inevitable thing about this commercial is that no one will have the faintest idea about what he is talking about. Truly and inevitably puzzling. To see the ad, click here.

Did we miss any spectacular highs or lows in public relations this week? Give us your PR Verdict!

What Did the Princess Ask For? Is That All?

PRINCESS What Did the Princess Ask For? Is That All?

The PR Verdict: “C” for the Princess and her call for reform.

Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz (is there a shortened form?) gave the BBC a surprising interview yesterday, calling for change in her native Saudi Arabia.

From her London base, the daughter of King Saud, former ruler of Saudi Arabia, identified five needed reforms for the kingdom.  Radical in scope they included the constitution, divorce, education and social services.  She also criticised the current chaperone system for women as “infantilizing”, turning Saudi women into “a burden on their men and on society.”

The urgency of her calls came undone when she added in the interview that she is opposed to women driving, urging a delay  “until we are educated enough and until we have the necessary laws to protect us.”

The PR Verdict: “C” for the Princess and her call for reform.  She let the air out of the balloon by urging caution.  By saying that allowing women to drive is not for now, she pushed her five lofty reforms into the distant future and delayed  a simple reform from happening anytime soon.

Key PR lesson: Always start with a call to action that immediately mobilizes.  Give people something to do.  Arguing for constitutional and legal reform has its role but the Princess’s foray into free speech left her energized sympathizers limp.  While her five suggestions can be the subject of endless academic debate,  the question of women driving is a straight forward yes or no.  More importantly, it is the gateway for broader change.  Sadly a missed opportunity.

To read the interview click here

What’s your PR Verdict?

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