inability of the U.S. to effectively reach out to Middle
Eastern countries is at least partially hampered by the
lack of skilled PR and media relations people working
for the government, according to a key commissioner of
the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
Pachios, who served in the Johnson administration as an
associate press secretary, noted that “the apparatus of
public diplomacy at the State Department has proven
inadequate, especially in the Arab and Muslim world,”
when he addressed a committee of the House of
Representatives recently (see
that a key obstacle to achieving both short-term and
long-term objectives is diplomats’ lack of ability to
address issues in the native cultures of the countries
they are trying to communicate with.
specifically cited the need to develop a core group of
effective communicators skilled in media relations and
armed with modern public relations tools. Additionally,
he said, the lack of third-party validators (i.e. native
media) speaking out on behalf of the U.S. seriously
undermines the messages the U.S. is trying to send.
Thus, developing relationships with trusted local media
members in every foreign country is crucial.
in the most remote villages can see images and news on
satellite television at the same time they’re seen in
major U.S. urban centers, the need to instantly address
breaking news via electronic media in local terms
becomes ever more important. One of the problems faced
in today’s media world is that events unfold immediately
to an international audience, so they can be
misinterpreted when not addressed accurately by local
foreign policy agendas affected by public perception
outside of the U.S., it becomes increasingly important
that new programs and events with significance outside
U.S., borders are addressed directly to the foreign
press corps by administration officials. They must
understand that a press corps not under direct control
of the administration is judging every action and policy
the need for effective PR outreach to international
media is no longer an elective - it is an imperative. In
a related development, a poll by the
Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed
that hostility to the U.S. in the Middle East and Europe
has hardened, with public opinion shifting towards
independence from U.S. policies. The results of the poll
underscore the comments made by Pachios.
Click here to
view the survey.