The political bosses in India, now altering and ‘selling’ the distorted images of their opponents, thanks to the PR Cold Wars. The unsuspecting voters don’t even realize this image engineering and the new warfare of the customized ideological battles
Definition: The PR Cold War is a state of conflict between two different interest groups that does not involve direct propaganda but it’s pursued primarily through indirect publicity measures and the dark propaganda. In this type of a Cold War instead of weapons, PR twists and altered content is used against the targeted party or people. You may call it Dark PR or PR Voodoo!
Scope: Once Rahul Gandhi alleged that an army of the publicists work day and night to target his image. And everybody laughed. Even the Congress didn’t took it as a PR challenge. Factually PR Cold War is a PR mission in which a political party targets its opponents, using all sorts of verbal and non verbal publicity resources. Many of the leaders have not even heard about it. A PR Cold War basically aims at tarnishing the image of competitor in a s subtle way without being noticed by others.
Mechanism: Everyone wants to get benefited from the relations, particularly the politics is developing, maintaining and using relationships only. The politicians keep trying non stop to build their credibility and the best thing, naturally their opponents want to do naturally is downsizing them. The whole exercise now becoming popular all over the world among the politicians. Due to various reasons the professionals don’t do it openly and they neither bill it this way. The PR industry uses many strategies such as maligning image (s), stripping personalities socially to make them unacceptable and creating a horrible image of the targeted person using all sorts of engineered content. that mask the truth and uncover the massive shit around.
Not Irreparable: The Dark PR is the best loved strategic PR tool. It hardly gives the targeted opponent any chances of gathering the courage to stand up early and admit, “Yes, this much fault is mine, and now I want to set things right. I promise you that haven’t disguised the truth in any manner.” Professionally the Dark PR fallout is not deadly, it may never ruin anyone’s image and reputation forever. Handled carefully the bounce back is better than ever.
Principles : Make opponents’ life miserable, in whatever manner. Like CIA’s Chief J. Edgar Hoover instructed his agents, ” If you don’t have much to do, just keep urinating on the enemy camp. At least it will smell foul from both the sides and make their life miserable.” This is the commonest principles the PR Cold War is based upon. Smart publicists keep ‘urinating’ on their opponents to make them appear smell foul socially without any logic. This is actually a process of destroying someone’s reputation and identity to the extent it is irreparable. It’s paying attention on harming your opponents’ image instead of maintaining your clients’ positive reputation.
A PR Cold War is a war without any reason. It’s full of professional smear strategies, political espionage, propaganda and information mining because the data is invariably crucial for every PR Cold War Mission.
Reputation Bleeding: The PR Cold War is virtually like any surprise terrorist attack but it never is a suicidal mission, to save the professionals operating it. Its full scale good PR with bad intentions. It’s not like stabbing someone. It’s not like bombing or shooting someone. It’s just giving someone a sharp and minor blade cut and left him bleeding. By the time he tries to recover, give another cut. So, it’s death by reputation bleeding. The PR Cold Wars require a lot of research. This method initially evaluates the PR Security of the target and evolve a set up. It also assess the possible PR threats, vulnerabilities and attack strategies.
Example: Just think. Is it merely by chance that all the Chief Ministers in India who could emerge as third front leaders are being constantly & systematically targeted socially, publicly and personally. On the other hand the ruling party admitting and accepting the controversial leaders without giving a reason, why its ignoring their earlier outbursts and mistakes, they were enjoying & exploiting? The political parties are huge ideological groups but they also have many irresponsible members and officeholders, that serve as the fuel for the disinformation operations. Any mistake they commit is engineered and blown intelligently to bombard the targeted political party.
Strategies: The PR Cold Wars are of several types. Being the indirect types they usually depends on the enemies, mistakes and circumstances that may fuel the disinformation team. Like the Judo, the PR Cold Wars also use the power of the enemy to harm him. Since recently the Telangana Chief Minister KCR has started the discussion on the third front hence he is the primary target these days. I will brief you about the types of PR Cold Wars just by giving the examples of attacks KCR suffered these days.
(i) Tunnel Attack: The tunnel attacks are unilateral attacks in which the propaganda bases on a real fact and distorts it suitably. The defender doesn’t have any chance to say anything first hand, if the PR team is not very proactive. Recently the Telangana Chief Minister KCR just missed a step and fell to the ground while coming out of his chopper. Someone promptly recorded it and posted on the web and instantly it becomes a viral video getting millions of hits and thousands of shares. If you see this video you will realise that after KCR missed a step, he almost instantly bounced up again. If he was not fully in senses, it could haven’t been near possible. In other smaer campaigns the targets are also shown smoking cigarette, dancing in a party, smiling for a selfie with a fan, who actually a planted person with suspected background, handshaking with college girls or wives of some officers and even getting a massage. Some huge bungalow is shown and declared its build using only black money. Such images help create their bad brand image and spoil their reputation.
(ii) PR Landmine: This strategy basically uses such vulnerable circumstances that can easily be mastered the other way. Like when Pakistan’s First Lady Begum Sehba Musharraf with her husband General Parvez Musharraf met at the state dinner in the President house at New Delhi, the ISI deliberately used a particular photograph to malign Indian Prime Minister, after the Agra Summit failed without any outcome. The photograph in question showed PM Bajpai looking at Mrs Sehba in an unusual way while Sehba seems disinterested and not even looking at the unmarried Prime Minister. This matter didn’t flare up as expected because un that photo Mrs Muhrraf seen extending her hand, unusual and unexpected courtesy, while Mr Bajpai not. The looks in his eyes were equated with this gesture. So, this landmine could not blast.
(iii) Content Disinformation : This is the most easy and a favorite Propaganda Method in which the target is either video recorded or photographed very clearly while doing something. Later this content is mastered or doctored to suit the intention. The best example is the way Rahul Gandhi is made a joke using the same trick.
This method is supposed to be very versatile and extremely powerful. The PR machinery usually exploit even scripted opportunities like this one, in which an unsuspected target is harmed beyond easy repair. See video.
The target sometimes recorded using TV or any other media stream and the content is doctored later. A huge team analyzing the procured, edited and doctored content frame by frame. After a day or two this content is edited, filled and touched up with effects and released on unsuspected yet popular handles with purchased following of millions of people all over the world. See this video showing Telangana Chief Minister KCR actually speaking in the assembly and the video showing him fully drunk, by just using slow motion technique, creating a doubt that they spoke in a drunk state.
This content went viral in no time but eventually failed to confuse the Telangana people who have seen KCR speaking in his typical lightening style. See his original style here.
The PR Trojans? : Borrowed from the story of the wooden horse used to trick the defenders of Troy into sneaking soldiers into their city. The PR Trojan Horse is a PR Mercenary that hides inside the enemy system easily.
In the political PR the most easy PR Trojans are the near retirement officers, the money shark media person and the clerks of the various Secretariats. The needy security personals also serve the same purpose to leak sensitive inputs. There are a wide variety of PR Trojan mercenaries and that’s a complicated discussion. The Trojans are divided into various sub categories and they perform an array of complicated tasks. Sometimes a lower set of Trojans also used to infiltrate, steal the secret data and hire similar Trojans unsuspectingly. For the first time in the history of this country such operations are being carried out on a large scale and practically all the big political parties have multiple sets of Trojans
Yes we are experiencing a state of full fledged PR Cold War in India. KCR is the first casualty and before 2019 many more such timed explosions are ticking. The KCR is one of the apex chief ministers who are trying to evolve a third front before 2019. The other leaders under attack are Niteesh Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Naveen Patnaik and Akhilesh Yadav.
Conclusion: The PR Cold War has to be swift and fast. It’s more successful if it works before getting noticed. One example of such a failed attack is the full page advertisement released in all the major newspapers by the ruling political party. The theme was a tree (India) with many branches, with an Owl (representing the Chief Ministers of different states of India)sitting on each branch with this line “Har Shakh Par Ullu Baitha Hai, Anjame Gulistaan Kya Hoga?” Reflecting that most of the chief ministers of that political party are Owls -ruining their respective state. This so harsh usage of phrase caught the attention of every opponent party. And that advertisement boomeranged. Soon another advertisement appeared in every big news paper and channel showing, a tree (India) with many branches, with ONLY one Owl sitting in the middle of the tree (representing the Prime Minister of India), with the following slogan: “Bas Ek Hee Ullu Kaafi Hai Barbad Gulistan Karne Ko.” This counter PR attack nullified the initial immense impact of that campaign much before it could progress ahead..
The present PR Cold War is aimed only at propagating ideologically doctored content to the targeted audiences. Its mechanism is still the most unexplored and rarely studied area of public relations. Its scope is massive, not well understood and far reaching. The opposition is also desperately trying to propagate some twisted facts but has failed to gather any ground despite a few thousand likes. See this video,
No doubts such contents are well produced and interesting but they may serve only as entertainment without transforming anything on ground. There are various important PR lessons that can be learned just by looking at how public relations influenced opinion can affect the mood of the targeted public.This is not a coincidence. India is experiencing it’s existence’s first full fledged PR Cold War. The targets unprepared while their reputation being slaughtered ruthlessly.