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Friday, September 13, 2013

Russia's Public Relations Initatives Lack Charm

Thankfully, Senator John McCain will write for Russian news, Pravda, in response to Russian President Putin's lecture of Americans in The New York Times:  

John McCain to write for Pravda in response to Putin's Times op-ed: Spokesman says Arizona senator 'will submit a piece' after Russian president's controversial New York Times byline.  Senator McCain will set the record straight with the Russian people through the news media they read in Pravda.

Thank goodness!  I'm confident Senator McCain will present a balanced response to Putin's op-ed.  

Meanwhile, a CNN op-ed by Tara Sonenshine presents the wrong point of view about Russia in her commentary.  

This media tit-for-tat is in response to the Russian President Vladimir Putin's cunning op-ed article in The New York Times, written to counter what must have been perceived as an exceptional speech by President Obama, defending the use of force to retaliate against the use of a chemical massacre by Syrian President Assad. I doubt Putin was motivated to capture the media spotlight if he didn't find Obama's speech disturbingly compelling.

Tara Sonenshine writes in CNN.com: "All this excitement over recent Russian public diplomacy on Syria is a bit odd to those of us who have followed that diplomacy strategy for over a decade. That Vladimir Putin chose to write an op-ed in The New York Times this week is not at all shocking. It is part of a broader pattern of Russian outreach that began in 2001. (But) What confuses people about Russian public diplomacy is that it often veers from a closed fist approach to an open handshake depending on its narrow objective -- all the while testing America as it seeks to build its own popularity around the world."


Dear Tara, I don't think so.  Russians aren't popular around the world. Although I'm not a state department professional, my extensive travel experience has witnessed the expression on people's faces when they meet me as an American in a foreign nation.  

I've had hosts in foreign countries look at me and my husband to say, "Oh, you're an American. We were afraid you would be Russians".

Frankly, many Russians are arrogant.  In a nutshell, they frequently lack charm.  Although Putin enjoys the narcissism of believing he's irresistible to Russian citizens, it's my opinion that people laugh at him rather than with him, especially when he's kissing fish.  

President Putin's op-ed lecture to Americans was a feeble attempt to somehow be "popular", but Americans aren't biting like a big fish. Rather, Putin's article was an egotistical failure, because he wrote it like he has, somehow, become a wisely sage philosopher or theologian.  This is from a man who uses photo-shop public relations, like kissing fish that he probably didn't even catch himself.

It's even likely Putin didn't write The New York Times op- ed himself.  
Putin is very busy running one of the world's largest countries. Even if he did have spare time to craft carefully worded op-eds, his English is good but not that good. And even one of the world's more narcissistic heads of state is unlikely to take a step this high-stakes without bringing in the Kremlin communications/propaganda staff he surely keeps on hand for precisely such occasions. In any case, the claim that he wrote it also sounds like exactly the sort of thing that a professional PR shop -- one that does a whole lot of business with the Russian government -- is paid to say, according to The Washington Post.

You can betcha' Senator McCain will write his Pravda editorial, albeit he'll surely have it checked for spelling.

And, Senator John McCain has the charm gene.  

President Putin has a charm deficit.

Therein is the difference in credibility.  I suspect Senator McCain's op ed in Pravda will be far more popular in Russia than Putin's was in The New York Times.  Now, it'a about time for President Obama to launch his authority and charm to challenge President Putin's arrogance.  

Moreover, CNN opinion writer Sonenshine should travel more often as an international tourist, rather than as a diplomat, if she wants to write about the impact of Russian public relations initiatives.



 

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