Austere Today, Gone Tomorrow?

 Austere Today, Gone Tomorrow?

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for the proponents of austerity, who continue to lose a losing battle.

What now for the proponents of austerity? Up until last month it seemed they had won the policy and PR debate. With disciples across Europe and the US, and with Angela Merkel as its high priestess, fiscal restraint was positioned as a dose of much needed tough medicine. The mantra was clear; no pain, no gain. Politically unassailable, this was one helluva PR launch with some influential backers. Over the last month, however, things have become a little more complicated: austerity may have lost its PR claim as a cure all.

Last week, economists at the University of Massachusetts reviewed calculations cited in Growth In a Time of Austerity, the bible for those justifying tightened fiscal policy, as flawed. The claim? The research published in January 2010 by Harvard University included “selective exclusion of available data and unconventional weighting of summary statistics.” The case for austerity is now not so clear.

Since then, austerity seems to be losing more and more PR steam. EU nations are sliding deeper into recession, with unemployment in Spain and Greece topping 30 percent. In Britain, austerity is responsible for a limp 0.3 percent growth, while Germany, the champion of austerity, is teetering on the edge of recession. Has austerity fallen out of fashion? The headlines would seem to suggest that less has not added up to more.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for the proponents of austerity, who continue to lose  a losing battle.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Product launches can teach us something about ideological launches. If austerity was a consumer product, it would now be sitting on the supermarket shelves unloved and unwanted. Why? Because not one of its proponents have been able to demonstrate tangible benefits. Despite a big and loud launch, its advocates seem to be retreating into the shadows. Where are the business leaders confirming they are hiring in the face of cutbacks? Without some simple proof points and enthusiastic advocates, this is one launch that might have seen its brief vogue run right out of steam and into the dustbins of economic history.

 

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

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: A (PR PERFECT) to Adele for reportedly declining a seven-figure offer from publisher HarperCollins to write a memoir. The 24-year old superstar allegedly described herself as wanting to live a bit more before chronicling her life – imagine that! In turning down the deal, Adele is taking a different tack than many of her peers, including Miley Cyrus, who penned a tell-all at 16; Justin Bieber, who at 19 has two memoirs under his belt; and, at 28, ancient Katy Perry, whose autobiography is due out this year. Kudos to Adele for wisely realizing that she’ll likely have a more interesting story to tell – and sell – in a few years’ time.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to the PR team for Christine Lagarde of the IMF. Red faces at the PR office of Lagarde, who failed to make the recent list of Time Magazine’s top 100 people. The usual suspects were there, including Kim Jong Un of North Korea, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, and even Chrstina Aguilera of talent reality show The Voice. But the rariefied list strangely didn’t include the widely travelled head of the IMF, who has been busy trying to save the euro and halt the ongoing European banking crisis. We doubt it bothered Lagarde herself, but it was a curious omission that someone in the IMF PR department might want to take a look at before the next staff meeting.

BRADLEYCOPPER 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Bradley Cooper.  The actor voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People  in 2011 has just given an interview to Details that was immediately picked up by surprised media everywhere. The news hook? Bradley lives with his mom. Apparently he moved in with his mother Gloria following the death of his father two years ago and since then, they live in rooms next door to one another. Admirable though that may be, it does work against some of the PR positioning as one of Hollywood’s leading men. Explaining to Details, Cooper said, “She’s in the next room. But here’s the thing: She’s a cool chick. We can hang, and she can roll with the punches.” Bradley’s PR presumably winced when reading…

 

 

In Greece, Everything Elder is New Again

 In Greece, Everything Elder is New Again

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for the Elder Paisios legacy.

What becomes a legend most? Rasputin and Nostradamus both became celebrity doomsayers, but for the student of myth making, are there any present day examples? Enter Elder Paisios, a Greek monk who died in his homeland in 1994. According to the Wall Street Journal, he developed a cult following for his divinations and visions that allegedly predicted the current financial upheaval in Greece. Now everyone wants to know what else Elder Paisios envisioned.

Paisios spent most of his adult life  as a hermit on Mount Athos, spiritual homeland to the Greek Orthodox church. His fame spread when tales of his miracles and predictions circulated in the media as pundits searched for an explanation for the recent  economic fallout. The mystic had previously predicted that Greece would experience “great disruption and confusion, followed by hunger and political turmoil.” As Greeks endure the current crisis, they are now poring over Paisios’s other predictions. Some make puzzling reading; Greece will ultimately prevail over Turkey, Greece will partition part of Albania, and the world is secretly run by a cabal of five?

Yet Greeks are entranced by this man, whose grave has now become a shrine. Even a military officer was quoted in the WSJ as saying, “Paisios predicted many things, and his prophecies are now coming true.” A Facebook page making fun of him and his writings was taken down after vociferous protests and condemned in Parliament. Paisios has captured the public imagination, but like all mystics, his words are a matter of interpretation.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for the Paisios legacy. There is a PR lesson to be learned from his enduring popularity.

The PR Takeaway: Mystery and silence make a reputation. Despite over 350,000 copies of a biography sold on Elder Paisios’s life, little is known about him. Born in 1924, Paisios was small man with an emaciated frame (not surprisingly, there is also an Elder Paisios diet book) sporting a black robe and long beard, rather like Rasputin and Nostradamus. In the age of social media where no detail is spared, creating a myth out of spare writings and a striking iconic appearance gives PR students a second take on how to create a legend. Sometimes less really is more.

To read more, click here.

When will the Greeks develop their own propaganda plan?

greece2 When will the Greeks develop their own propaganda plan?

The PR Verdict: “D” for Greece’s political class on selling austerity.

A collective sigh of relief reverberated across financial markets this weekend, as Greece approved its latest round of austerity measures. The measures are tough and include savage cuts in wages, pensions and a radical restructuring of outdated work practices.

While financial markets gave the changes a “thumbs-up” Greeks have given them a resounding “thumbs-down”.  Protestors in the capital have been rioting, with violent clashes reported throughout the country. Greeks are enraged about the level of sacrifice required and are pointing to Germany, the IMF and banks as the chief culprits.

The PR Verdict: “D” for Greece’s political class on selling these measures. It’s time Greece’s political class activated an educative PR plan.

A national campaign is needed where mutual sacrifice and the sharing of burdens are the order of the day. Start by enlisting the support of Greek intellectuals, celebrities and thought leaders to explain and personally describe, the sacrifices they are making for the greater good. For some pointers why not look at previous national propaganda programs that demanded sacrifices of their citizenry? History tells us it has been done before.

How would you convince the Greek population that sacrifice is for the long-term good?  Leave a comment and share your idea.