By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude
As I put these thoughts down, I struggled the past few minutes with the last word of the name for this post. How does one describe what took place in Pakistan in the wee hours of Sunday morning?
From a purely factual perspective: A terrorist monster who masterminded the slaughter of some 3,000 Americans and strained our collective emotional fiber to its core was killed in a military exercise approved by the President and carried out by U.S. commandos on foreign soil.
That’s the reason I put the word “operation” in quotes. It was a concerted, planned military operation that took down Osama bin Laden.
Here are three thoughts, three take aways on the fourth day since the operation.
1. More Jaundiced Perceptions of Public Relations. According to our government, bin Laden was hiding in the compound in Abbottabad for around five years — figuratively under the noses of Pakistani government and military leaders at the nearby military academy. Now, the leaders of Pakistan have to defend the nation (and themselves) against charges of collusion or incompetence. I’ve read news commentary claiming the U.S. and Pakistan are engaged in some kind of “PR war.”
Bunk. Public relations, as I and many others maintain, does not fall anywhere in this scenario. What’s going on is “diplomatic relations,” pure and simple. Let’s hope and pray the surely strained relations we have with Pakistan do not lead to real war.
2. The Good and Bad of Social Media. In the good old days — you know, five years ago, before Twitter and Facebook — the only way to get real time reports on the bin Laden operation were from two of the original sources of mass media for the masses — television and radio. Today, everyone with a handheld, desktop or laptop and an online connection not only got the message, they were able to resend the message to friends and followers.
What’s more, they were able to offer their own perspective, add their own insight. This is allows the conspiracy theorists, quacks and nutballs a forum to spread conjecture, lies and nonsense. Thank the gods of technology for the delete key and ability to block inbound messages.
3. Every News Story is Part of the Cycle. Rest assured, we’ll be reading about, listening, tweeting, posting, talking and debating the bin Laden operation story for months to come — especially on every September 11. And, if — and I pray this never happens — there’s another terrorist attack in the U.S. or in one of the nations that still consider us allies.
But over time, the fatal shooting of Osama bin Laden and some underlings in a place far from here will fade from the headlines, television reports and blogs. Let’s hope the terrorist organization he masterfully created fades away, too.