"Mexico's image is certainly in need of improvement, but it won't be easy to shift media attention and perceptions away from the daily dose of murders, executions, decapitations, kidnappings and other violence that has been the object of attention, both in Mexico and abroad. A successful public relations campaign requires more than just hiring firms to play up a good story with positive news and trying to drown out the negatives.
As long as the Mexican media continues to highlight graphic reports of violence on newspapers' front pages and on evening newscasts, foreign correspondents and others will pick up the same and repeat it in their own outlets abroad.
The only way that Mexico's image can improve is if there is a palpable positive result to President Calderon's strategy of fighting the drug cartels and organized crime. So far this has not been the case. Both Mexicans and foreigners are continuously bombarded with horror stories and gory descriptions of the latest targeted attack on army convoys and the police, or by tragic consequences to innocent bystanders.
The government mistakenly believes that Mexico's image will improve by insisting on the dubious argument that most of the violence has been between members of the cartels fighting among themselves, or by touting the fact that Mexico has fewer murders per capita than do several other countries around the world. None of these strategies will lead to a successful campaign to better the country's image. If President Calderon truly wants to raise our image abroad he desperately needs to point to clear successes in his public safety strategy. Otherwise, any resources expended in futile public relations campaigns will be totally wasted."
Can public relations save Mexico?
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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.
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