People Power, Not PR

      9 Comments on People Power, Not PR

Jeff Morosoff, Special Asst. Professor, Hofstra University

Not everything is public relations.

Hosni Mubarak, the man who led Egypt for three decades, stepped down this week.  This was not a “PR move” done to win favor with the world.  Revolutions have happened throughout human history, and this one could have ended very badly for this target of the people’s angst.  If he had waited much longer, Mubarak’s life and certainly the lives of many Egyptians might have met a violent end.  Instead, as revolutions go, this one was peaceful.  It was an amazing demonstration of how people succeeded toppling a ruthless government by communicating their message through their sheer numbers.

Word of the street protests were fueled at the start by social media until the government shut it down.  So the message demanding that Murarak leave was conveyed for days on end by the swelling crowds.  The Egyptian president chose to relate his messages via television, attempted to placate the nation by promising he wouldn’t run for re-election and then by transferring power to his newly-selected vice president.  One might view Mubarak’s pronouncements as crisis PR but they were, more accurately, desperate attempts to hold on to power. 

Egypt’s message of people power has resonated throughout the world.  The people got what they wanted.  Numbers mattered–huge numbers of people with the simplest of messages to their despised leader conveyed by the simplest of ways: Loud, clear voices saying, “Get out!”

Your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “People Power, Not PR

  1. Danielle Pasquariello

    In way though, it seemed that he Egyptians wanted to shun the world from getting a close look at what was actually occurring there. There have numerous accounts of journalists being battered and assaulted, including well-known journalists Anderson Cooper and Lara Logan. It’s strange that the Egyptians started this movement online, through Facebook and Twitter, yet when journalists from around the world came to witness and report on the situation in Egypt, the people wanted nothing to do with them, and made it clear that they were not welcome. It was almost like they wanted to get the world out through their own voices and social media vehicles, not the journalists. ALl in all though, it was only a matter of time until Mubarak stepped down, as it was clear the Egyptians were not backing down, as we now see the same occurrence happening in Libya now.

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  2. tori

    The decision to give into protester’s wishes can be looked at as both a good an a bad decision. I am personally thankful Mubarak has stepped down because my entire family lives in Cairo and was deeply effected by the events. My grandmother even passed away last week, and my father couldn’t attend his own mothers funeral because of the dangers and turmoil going on. Although the President has stepped down, there is a question to be asked. Can it be possible that the events in Egypt can start a trend for other countries unhappy with leadership? The way the situation in Egypt has been handled is going to set the bar for the entire world to look at when something like this happens again. I’ve heard in the news lately that Italy is going through some similar challenges. Does this mean Italian citizens will follow in Egypt’s steps and rise against their constituted authority? The future is to be seen.

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  3. Mike Margolis

    I think that this just goes to show two things: 1) that PR cannot and should not be counted on to do everything, and 2) that social media has given so much power to the individual that we as PR people should NEVER underestimate the power of it. If it was powerful enough to overthrow a president, what can it do for us? I do a lot of social media PR at my job, and we have fortune-500 companies paying us because we know how to utilize blog networks, twitter, facebook, digg, etc. Companies now know that they need social media for PR, they just haven’t caught on how to do it yet. That is a harsh generalization, but for the most part it’s true. Going back to my first point, the Egyptian government disguised these attempts to remain in office as PR, and relied on it to save the presidency. Obviously it failed miserably, and as far as revolutions go, this was the most peaceful in recent memory. In this battle between “fake” old PR, and the new age, the new age won. So what are you doing with social media?

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  4. agarone

    Although PR cannot be credited for Mubarak’s decision to step down, there is no doubt that it contributed to how the people expressed their feelings. Social media allowed the public to communicate what they wanted. I think it is great how twitter can be used for important decisions. Even though revolutions have been happening since before twitter, the way things are done are always changing. Social media has a strong presence in today’s society, so why not utilize it?

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  5. Cait Scungio

    Social media has been utilized by many activists, companies and businesses recently. I believe that the decision of the Egyptian peoples to use this outlet to rally citizens was wise. The government should have taken this into account and utilized it as well to relate to the citizens of Egypt.

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  6. wsteiner89

    Working for a non-profit, I have found that the most effective way to gain support and quickly/easily/cheaply get the message out is through social media. This was definitely a smart move on the part of the Egyptian people. I have always worked by the rule that in a crisis situation or any situation for that matter, you should address the issue using whatever media those opposing used to put out their message. If the Egyptian people used Facebook to attack the Government and gain support against the President, he too should have addressed the Egyptian people through that media source. Although I feel that at this point there was no way around the resigning of Hosni Mubarak, he could have gone about it a lot better when the revolutionary actions began and saved many lives and destruction.

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    1. jmorosoff

      Fortunately, this revolution did not see much destruction or the loss of lives. Yes, there was some that, but as revolutions go, this one was relatively peaceful. Which makes it that much more remarkable.

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