Tuesday, October 31, 2006


PR Campaigns

The week before critical US midterm elections, and the architects of a couple of high visibility public relations (PR) campaigns must be pretty satisfied.

Yes, Al Qaeda and the Democrats have every reason to be pleased.

Let’s talk declared enemies first. That’s right, Al Qaeda and their Media War.

These guys know what they’re doing, it’s pretty hard to argue with their success. They have an avowed PR Campaign, and captured documents reveal a complex and multi-faceted information operations (IO) effort, aimed at the instruments of Western media and their willing (if unwitting) practitioners.

What a result they’ve achieved.

All the news outlets are trumpeting “highest in a year” US Soldier deaths in Iraq, the very month before midterm elections. They did better than they hoped, no doubt, not just beating the year’s best, but moving ahead of the psychologically significant 100 per month figure. And coverage has been wall-to-wall, almost universal across all major media outlets, print, radio, TV, and cable.

Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette highlights a highly successful “Astroturfing” campaign, in which activist groups with a political agenda simulate a “grassroots” effort by “disillusioned” active duty soldiers against the war. Except, this grassroots effort was orchestrated by others that then “recruited” the military front-men required, as reported by the NY Sun (almost exclusively). Hence the term, “Astroturfing.” As described by Wikipedia:

In politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations (PR) campaigns which seek to create the impression of being a spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the "AstroTurf" (artificial grass) is a metaphor to indicate "fake grassroots" support.

The goal of such campaign is to disguise the agenda of a political client as an independent public reaction to some political entity —a politician, political group, product, service, event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt ("outreach," "awareness," etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by anything from an individual pushing their own personal agenda through to highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations.

Furthermore, as reported by Greyhawk and Blackfive, major media and responsive columnists have willingly transmitted Al Qaeda propaganda, without contrast or rebuttal, and without any acknowledgement of sources or evaluation of credibility. One suspects, since the source was not the Pentagon, no reason to suspect press manipulation, right?

Al Qaeda has every reason to be pleased with their PR campaign to turn the US electorate against the war and change the political equation in Washington.

As for the Democrats, let’s review their PR campaign.

Wait. No. That’s AQ. One minute please. Nope, that’s the Astroturfing we were talking about. Not that, more Media War.

I guess they didn’t need one this year, since AQ pretty much did it for them.

What do you call a political party that wants to take advantage of an avowed enemy and every step they take against the US? What would you say of a party that can take such advantage, because these enemies think the same things, say the same things, and want the same things?

When a political party can so closely align themselves with declared enemies of the US, they really ought to ask themselves how that can be. And we ought to be asking the same thing.

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