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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Needs Some PR Assistance

Vladimir Putin‘s recent New York Times op-ed on Syria may have prompted some serious ethical debates, but it also led to a chorus of “Me too! Me too!” among other politicians looking to distribute their own foreign policy statements. Unfortunately for these followers, they now serve as case studies demonstrating why Putin pays top dollar for Ketchum‘s PR services.

The new, supposedly moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani placed an op-ed in The Washington Post urging the United States to pursue “constructive engagement” with his country while condemning the chemical weapons attacks that Iran supposedly helped happen—and he did it without PR assistance. His foreign minister also posted a Rosh Hashanah message earlier this month with the apparent goal of appeasing the Jewish community that predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worked so hard to alienate by denying that the Holocaust ever happened.

This is progress, right? Not really.

Last week Rouhani unwittingly showed us the value of media training: he followed his “Kumbaya” campaign by sitting down for an interview with NBC‘s Ann Curry and avoided denying the reality of the Holocaust by refusing to tell her whether he believes that it actually happened.

In the same interview, he also blamed Israel for facilitating “instability” in the region with “its warmongering policies”, and the Israeli government quickly let the world know how very little it thought of his outreach efforts.

This looks like two steps forward and three steps back. Rouhani should have hired Ketchum, because he clearly doesn’t appreciate the value of consistency in messaging.

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