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Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

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.

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Russian Propaganda Rags Still Land in U.S. Papers

The debate over the debate about Ketchum‘s placement of an aggressive Vladimir Putin New York Times op-ed continues this week, but there’s another side of the Putin’s PR offensive that we hadn’t heard of: it’s called Russia Beyond the Headlines, and it’s an English language propaganda rag that regular appears as a paid advertorial section inside American newspapers like the NYT and the Washington Post. Here’s what chess champion and democracy activist Gary Kasparov had to say about the latest edition:

He’s not big on subtlety, and neither is Beyond the Headlines. It’s a branch of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia’s official state publication, and it brings a mix of politics, op-eds and cultural reporting—all with a heavy pro-Putin slant—to foreign newspapers around the world under the tagline “Our News. Your Language.”

Here are our favorite recent headlines at a glance:

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Putin/Ketchum New York Times Op-Ed Inspires PR Ethics Debate

The fact that Ketchum pitched Vladimir Putin’s controversial New York Times op-ed on Syria isn’t breaking news: We’ve already established, via ProPublica, that Ketchum places pro-Putin op-eds written by “independent businessmen” in publications like The Huffington Post and CNBC. Yet unlike those posts, this one was quite clear in its intentions, and the Times apparently handled it much like any other pitch. Op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal writes:

“I thought it was well-written, well-argued. I don’t agree with many of the points in it, but that is irrelevant.”

Critics pounced immediately, writing that the Times was “aiding and abetting a long-term foe of the United States” by running the op-ed. This is obviously not true, as Times public editor Margaret Sullivan notes that publication is “not an endorsement of [Putin] or his ideas” and that he didn’t get paid. Still, one reader who may or may not be this guy asks why the NYT doesn’t “…take issue with the fact that it was so obviously penned by Putin’s flacks.”

Was it? Putin’s spokesman now claims that the man himself wrote “the basic content” and that his “assistants” fleshed it out—but what about Ketchum?

General consensus calls the successful pitch “a PR coup” for Putin, but it’s led some in the industry to raise ethical issues:

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Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial New York Times Op-Ed

Vladimir Putin recently took a break from using 90′s R&B to encourage Russians to reproduce in order to pen an op-ed for The New York Times.

In the article, he urges the American people to resist President Obama‘s calls for military action in Syria, writing that a missile strike “will result in more innocent victims and escalation” and even going so far as to claim that the opposition, not “President” Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for recent poison gas attacks that killed more than 1,000 men, women and children. Putin argues that the opposition, who he labels terrorists, killed their own people in order to “provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.”

It’s a heavy charge, and Putin doesn’t shy away from characterizing the United States as an international bully that uses “brute force” to get its way; senators in both parties raced to issue statements about how terrible the article was, and this morning Leon Panetta told Today that it’s all part of Putin’s effort to “weaken” the US.

In the midst of this discussion, BuzzFeed reported—and Times public editor Margaret Sullivan tacitly confirmed—that Ketchum PR pitched the article.

Whatever your thoughts on the op-ed itself or the ethical debates regarding its placement, this is big news. How should the world respond? How should the PR industry respond?

Stoli Vodka to LGBT Protestors: ‘We’re Not Really Russian, OK?’

Vladimir Putin hasn’t won too many friends in the Western world with his new anti-gay crusade. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sotchi will probably be just fine, and the International Olympic Committee is crossing its fingers and hoping that nobody raises too big a stink.

But all this negative coverage is bad PR for some classic Russian brands, especially Stolichnaya Vodka. But Stoli’s not really Russian, and now the brand is scrambling to downplay the connection.

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Edelman Reboots Its Russian Operations

Edelman PR LogoWe’re fascinated by the very concept of public relations in a formerly closed society like the one now run by Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But the practice certainly does exist, and this weekend Edelman PR announced plans to continue the scheduled reboot of its Russian operations after facing some challenges that led the firm to liquidate its Russian acquisition Imageland.

In 2012 Edelman “ran into some problems” due to pushback from Russia’s Solidarity trade union, which encouraged laid off Imageland employees to form their own union and take legal action against the firm. That spat appears to have resolved itself; in an interview with The Holmes Report, Edelman Russia general manager Kerry Irwin confirms that the office’s staff will include several former Imageland executives who stuck around through a wave of departures.

Edelman represents brands like HP, Wrigley and Mars in Russia. The firm apparently does not plan to work directly with Putin’s government like Ketchum sometimes does, but the Kremlin could certainly use the help: Edelman’s own 2013 “Trust Barometer” study found that Russian citizens unsurprisingly report some of the world’s lowest rates of trust in their own government and media outlets. We’d suggest more Boyz II Men concerts as a good way to start winning the public back, because if there’s one thing pretty much everyone around the world can agree on, it’s the healing power of 90′s R&B.

Vladimir Putin Hires Boyz II Men to Promote Russian Fertility

Boyz II MenJust a couple of hours ago we posted about a Chicago-based NPR affiliate relying on clever PR campaigns to encourage its fans to reproduce. Self-appointed Russian president Vladimir Putin has a simpler strategy: hire Boyz II Men!

While the Boyz claim to be very busy working on their Las Vegas hotel residency and their upcoming tour with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees (stay out of it, Nick Lachey!), they still managed to find time to headline a February show in Moscow’s Crocus City Hall which–according to The Moscow Times–will serve as part of Putin’s ongoing PR campaign urging Russians to have more kids so the country can be more “influential.”

If you can’t see the connection between point A and point B, then you must not have lived through the early 90′s.

We only have two questions: Since when did Boyz II Men turn into a trio? And what happened to the slow-jam guy with the cane and the Barry White bass? He was all about making babies…

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Soviet-Style PR: Firm Plants Positive Stories on Kremlin’s Behalf

President Vladamir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev A few weeks ago we reviewed the Communist Party’s unique approach to PR damage control; today we observe the ways in which the Party ensures positive coverage in foreign media outlets.

In short: they pay for it.

We’re not talking about traditional Party mouthpieces like Pravda and The People’s Daily. This matter concerns stories carried by familiar American media outlets like The Huffington Post and CNBC, which recently posted op-eds by “independent” businessmen proclaiming Russia to be “Europe’s Bright Light of Growth”, calling the government’s approach to the worldwide recession “a model of restraint” and naming Russia “the most dynamic place on the continent.”

An investigation by ProPublica, a research organization dedicated to facilitating “Journalism in the Public Interest”, found that Ketchum planted these complimentary pieces in order to improve Western perceptions of two-time Russian President Vladamir Putin’s government and the nation’s business culture. Ketchum, one of the world’s largest PR firms and PRWeek‘s 2012 agency of the year, has represented the Kremlin since 2006.

Ketchum’s filings with the US Justice Department reveal that, while the company’s employees did not write the stories themselves, they did reach out to the authors and arrange for the placement of their op-eds on prominent websites in order to encourage “foreign investments” in Russian companies.

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Putin Sheds a Tear, The Russian People Protest

OMG! Was Vladimir Putin crying?!

A photo of the newly-reelected Russian President as he made a speech over the weekend has everyone asking if the man known for doing judo and running around without a shirt got a little emotional after his big win. That glistening on his face in the photo at left is the tear in question. The Wall Street Journal has a close-up of the controversial tear on the cover of today’s paper.

When asked if the tear was real, Putin responded, “Well, yes, they were real — real from the wind.” Because, of course, Putin doesn’t cry. “Well, at least that was his explanation for what happened,” his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, later added.

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The Cold War is Back, With Help from Social Media

Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

The Cold War is back on bitches! First we have ballet dancers acting as double agents. Now, we have allegations from frequently shirtless Russian PM Vladimir Putin that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton encouraged this week’s post-election protests in Moscow.

Russians voted on Sunday, with Putin’s party, United Russia, showing a loss of support and facing accusations of fraud. Even former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has called for a new election. Thousands took to the streets in protest. Shouts of “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin” could be heard.

Secretary Clinton’s comments expressing concern over manipulation of election results were in line with what election monitors had already reported. “And we are supportive of the rights and aspirations of the Russian people to be able to make progress and to realize a better future for themselves, and we hope to see that unfold in the years ahead,” she said.

“She set the tone for some activists in our country and gave them a signal,” Putin responded. He also expressed concern over “interference” from foreign governments. Add to that the breakdown of relations between the two governments over a variety of foreign policy issues and the fears in the Russian government about the influence of the Arab Spring.

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