Old rivalries die hard, and Russian-American propaganda rivalries stretch as far back as the beginning of the Soviet Union. In 2015, that rivalry still exists, and an increase in tensions between the two nations has sparked a rise in PR and propaganda from both sides.
Russian propaganda has proven more effective in the 21st century than its American counterpart, and American PR has a lot to learn from the Russia if it wants to compete on a global scale.
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Putin and the Perception of Power
One sign of Russian propaganda’s effectiveness is the most recent list in Forbes Magazine for “Most Powerful Leader,” which placed Putin at the top, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and then President Obama, who dropped one place to third.
Putin’s rise is linked directly to his ability to tap into feelings of Russian nationalism, its historical significance, and his knack for appearing to be extremely powerful.
As this article points out:
“It may not always be accurate or correct, but it doesn’t have to be. It is all in the perception. And with Mr. Putin, the Russians are back on the block and in the business of projecting power globally. Mr. Putin makes clear that this is the time for Russia to pursue its destiny.”
Ironically, the American government invented many of the propaganda techniques during the Cold War now employed by Putin.
Ways America Can Improve PR
Concurrent to Putin’s rise as the “Most Powerful Leader” is Obama and America’s inability to keep up a positive public image and the perceived weakness of America on an international level.
According to the aforementioned article, America can improve its image by giving more power and credence to PR Agencies and less power to so-called “citizen journalists” on the Internet. This would help America and Obama appear to be stronger and wield greater control on a global scale
A powerful agency that keeps American values at the forefront is more credible and better PR than dissenting voices who skew narratives with “unstructured propaganda.”
Another way that America can improve their PR is by having a clear message and position concerning the Middle East:
“At this juncture, it could be argued that the United States has no coherent or effective policy in the Middle East, other than to pass from bad to worse: incapable of crushing the Islamic extremists, training effective indigenous fighting forces to take on the extremists, alienating the Israeli government and not being able to identify terrorist activities before the fact and interdict the terrorists.”
America can take a page out of their own history. In the past, America has positioned itself as the most powerful country in the world. Much of that depended on the public perception of the Presidential leadership. What Putin is doing now is not much different than what prior American leaders have done. The American Government can improve their PR on a global scale by being assertive and communicating strength through its actions and words.