Yep, It’s Gone Global: Public Relations International

The world is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural tapestry. The world’s languages paint images of people who live around the world. Culture forms traditions and customs that make up the fabric. Finally, the history is the background to the conversation.

Because of our reliance on media in this global reality, this tapestry’s significance lies in what is projected of our cultures to the world.

This also relates to public relations….

You can see how a panoramic view of how public relations shows the different ways in which media promotes change.

Where to first?

In Eastern Europe….

Slovenia’s government, in conjunction with the World Bank, sought to address its air pollution problems. Most of these pollution problems came as the result of heating buildings, apartments, and homes, which emitted smoke containing sulfur dioxide.

To combat this problem, the government established the Environmental Development Fund (Eco-Fund) to manage loans to convert to gas heaters. To encourage conversions, the World Bank established the Air Pollution Abatement Project, and this program provided low-interest loans to homeowners who converted their heaters to more environmentally-friendly ones.

But they had to convince the public….

Pristop Communication Group used public relations to encourage individual households to convert to environmentally-friendly heating systems.

…And how did they do it?

One of the major issues that the campaign contended with was the fact that, typically, the polluter pays. However, the polluters came from the community, a community that had just come out of a post-socialist existence. Against this backdrop, the organization:

  • Using in-depth interviews and other metrics, they found their public.
  • They launched an “Open Day” event at the headquarters of Eco-fund.
  • They used a multi-pronged media approach to raise awareness of the effort.
  • They held training events and seminars to educate the public.

Ten months later, the campaign resulted in generating almost 2,000 loans, or converting 2,000 households to environmentally-friendly heating systems.

And in Asia….

The Malaysian government created, as a part of promoting a more unified nation, a public relations campaign that encouraged patriotic spirit but also established this country’s economy on the world stage. Vision 2020’s primary emphasis was to bring Malaysia into the club of developing nations within thirty years.

At the time of the campaign, it was the early 1990s. Currently, we are two years away from the campaign’s initial goals.

The issue….

At task was unifying the Malaysian people who are a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-racial society under one idea, the country’s growth. The issue at hand was racial and ethnic sensitivities created problems for a campaign requiring collective unity.

The Malaysian government focused on relationships as a part of its public relations campaign by….

  • Establishing a mission that would promote national unity, social justice, political stability, a system of government, social and spiritual values, and national pride and confidence.
  • Using media to reach out to the various communities, which typically were divided on race and ethnicity while protecting values of the community.
  • Carefully crafting a campaign that focused on making Vision 2020 a transitional experience for people who were young parents in the 1990s but would see their children benefit from this program in 2020.
  • Taking this image of a unified country and projecting it to the worldwide community.
  • Thus, attracting foreign interests to the country with incentives, especially the high-tech industry, and focusing on small-to-medium sized sectors.

Keeping this factor in mind, the Malaysian government focused its efforts on two publics: Malaysian citizens and overseas business interests.

The results?

The campaign, which was named for our ability to see in front of us (in the future), will in two years be on track to achieve developed nation status.

And Latin American public relations activities….

In two countries historically marked by violence, El Salvador and Panama, the governments initiated programs to reduce the violence in the country.

What were these governments facing?

The problems these governments and the people experienced was a high incidence of violent activity. One of the reasons cited was that in times of civil war, civil unrest, or a flourishing illicit drug trade there tends to be a high cache of light assault weapons.

When the military leaves, these weapons remain in the country where gangs and other criminal enterprise gain access to them, creating a nightmare for impoverished, isolated communities whose only defense is silence. Panama and El Salvador faced a community whose government became the gangs who ruled by force.

And their public relations approach….

Both countries took similar approaches in dealing with the public. Their campaigns focused on:

  • Reducing firearms and controlling firearms.
  • Developing an exchange program (El Salvador)
  • Raising social awareness.
  • Reaching out to the global community for support.
  • Reforming weapons-related legislation.

The results were….

In Panama, the program reduced violent crime in affected areas, and for youth who voluntarily turned in weapons, they were offered employment.

In El Salvador, while there were no figures as of 2004 indicating the program’s effectiveness, the whole community is involved with multi-pronged activities to make this an ongoing effort.

On a global scale….

As you can see, public relations activities take on different shades and tones depending on the background of the organizations and publics involved.

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