Re-Branding a Failing State – Part 2

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(Continued from: https://ubd26.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/re-branding-a-failing-state/)

The campaign to morph the current ‘Dark-Ages’ perception into a masterpiece of the ‘Renaissance’ will take more than the combined efforts and creativity of the great artists of that era. First and foremost, it is not something which will happen overnight; a huge amount of time will be needed to change mind-sets. A massive amount of funding will be needed to sustain the campaign consistently for a long period of time. Above all else, a lot of careful planning will have to be carried out to decide on the image we want to promote and the roadmap needed to achieve the goal. A centralized PR Organization will play a pivotal role in this development.

Pakistan came into existence in 1947, but sadly, it has never had a centralized public relations department. America in contrast set up its very first PR committee during WW1 and later founded The United States Information Agency (USIA) in 1953 to act as a primary agent in shaping America’s image abroad. The first step in re-branding is the urgent need to set up a similar nationally funded PR Organization which will allow for a more comprehensive and central PR effort at home and abroad. The organization would need to chalk out long-term plans to curb the negativity surrounding the country and devise campaigns to improve relations with international policy makers. The objectives should be:

  • Advance political objectives of the government
  • Present a better image to the world at large
  • Eradicate stereotypes associated with the country, its citizens and the military
  • Help the government in modifying laws and regulations inhibiting Pakistan’s activities abroad

Once a centralized PR organization comes into the fray, there are numerous steps that it can take to put the objectives in motion. The first basic step of such a PR organization would be to appoint one Public Relations Officer (PRO) at every Pakistani embassy across the globe. The PRO will disseminate important information to the media of that country and work in tandem with the Pakistani Ambassador to improve relations with government officials. The PRO should be an expert in crisis management if the need arises in formulating strategies to counter any negativity in the said country regarding Pakistan.

The PR organization can go a step further and hire agencies in key strategic countries i.e. America, India, Afghanistan and China. A local agency will work towards establishing better government relations, assist in local communications with stakeholders, and advancing Pakistan’s commercial interests in the said country. A local agency shall formulate better strategies due to the vast local resources at their disposal and shall draw help from the fact that they would be the ones to know best the culture of the public and the best media for putting forward the Pakistani agenda.

(To be continued.)

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Re-branding a Failing State

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Countless daily killings, an un-controllable crime rate, a vicious cycle of corruption, increasing un-employment, a failing economy and a deteriorating international image; yes, I am talking about Pakistan, the land of the pure. Irrespective of the problems mentioned, we have a throng of politicians arguing over the dying embers of this country, which has become synonymous with the word ‘Terrorism’ in the West. If Pakistan was a company, its stock in the market would have plummeted, it would have been facing a long list of damaging lawsuits and probably would have filed for bankruptcy by now. But wait, what if I say that all is not lost yet? What if I say that together we can haul the Titanic out of the freezing waters, set it back together and put on a show for the world at large? Yes, it is possible.

Irrespective of the harsh words used above, Pakistan is a country draped in heavenly beauty up North, bustling cities rich with a mixture of vibrant customs, loving people, a highly skilled and intellectual youth and is also the first Muslim nuclear power. The country has a rich history dating back thousands of years and is the most strategically important part of South Asia with the Khyber Pass providing a route to Afghanistan and the Karakorum Highway making communication and trade with China easier. Pakistan’s coastline is in a central position for trading by sea both with South Asia and beyond and with the Middle East to the west. In addition, some of the air routes between west and east pass through Pakistan because of its central position. The country is not only famous in the international sporting circles for its long list of demigods but has also produced a throng of famous musicians and artists with an international fan following. This is the Pakistan which needs to be promoted and presented to the world. PR campaigns would need to be initiated in western countries especially America and UK to promote Pakistan’s lighter side; its cultural diversity, natural beauty, rich history, arts and customs.

At the moment, there is no brand called ‘Pakistan’. What we do have are disjointed, largely negative, fragments of our country’s attributes, which form the basis of the world’s judgment. Recent geopolitical events and continuous terrorist activities have seen our image take huge hits abroad. Sadly, these negative images are ingrained in our own minds as well, hence making our task nothing short of a herculean effort. With the global media filled daily with only gloom and despair regarding Pakistan and politicians near home and afar showing growing displeasure over the state of things, it’s clear that our country could use expert public relations help right about now. Pakistan desperately needs a PR campaign that is comprehensive and persuasive and will work to limit such mind-set and over time change the perception about us completely. Countries across the world use professional help in buffing their images. India, America, Indonesia and even Russia have used effective PR campaigns to tell their side of the story to the world…

(to be continued)