Friday, January 15, 2016

Quotable: John Paluszek on a communication and messaging program to counter ISIS

Thursday, January 14th 2016
“There is arguably no more critical communication mission in the world today than countering ISIS online recruiting propaganda,” wrote John Paluszek – a former President of the Public Relations Society of America, now Senior Counsel at Ketchum Public Relations -- in “Mission: Block ISIS online propaganda; develop counter messages that resonate,” on January 11, 2016, on the website.  He opened with the words of Edward R. Murrow:  “The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”

  • . . . communication technology, although vitally important, is only half of the task of countering ISIS propaganda. The other half is that a carefully-crafted message must be beamed proactively and continuously online -- and via many other media   -- to ISIS potential recruits around the world. It will be an arduous task, requiring the best thinking on how to change attitudes and generate favorable outcomes.

  • . . . to be successful, a communication program must be consistent with sound policy and performance. Here, geopolitical and military progress will be fundamental in confronting ISIS. But President Obama has reminded us of the importance of addressing motivation: "Ideologies are not defeated by guns; they are defeated by better ideas -- a more attractive and compelling vision."

  • . . . it's hoped that this new counter-ISIS-propaganda "overhaul" will cultivate a global network of governments and nongovernmental organizations to project similar messages. Top public relations professionals in organizations such as The Global Alliance For Public Relations and Communication Management can extend such global outreach. Another important outreach channel is the United Nations Business For Peace program now operating in conflict areas around the world.

  • Melanie R. Newman, Department of Justice spokeswoman, said of the new U.S. communication thrust that we must "ensure we are bringing our best private and public sector thinking to combatting terrorism."

  • The great national security need now is continuous delivery of content that resonates with the intended recipients.

  • Many experts say that this -- and, more generally, "telling America's story to the world" -- requires resurrection of the robust U.S. Information Agency of a bygone era. Desirable as this may be, the need is immediate as well as long term.

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