KONY 2012: Good or bad PR?

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The first time I heard about Kony was in early March when everybody on Facebook was sharing and making comments about it. I was not interested in watching it because I thought it was something about a new technology or those kinds of stupid videos with unpleasant scenes that I prefer not watching. So after people seeing people sharing and sharing while having those types of very academic and constructive conversations about a topic I had no idea about, I started to feel stupid and decided to watch the video.

Since it was 30 minutes long, I assumed it had something important to tell. I was moved by the message and how they produced the video, it was touching. I remember watching the little kid from Uganda telling his story and how he felt about life, I cried. I understood that the video was produced by a campaign called 'Invisible children'. The video was a strategy to help spread the objective of the campaign, which was raising awareness of the existence of Joseph KONY, the leader of LRA. The reason they wanted to make Kony famous was because of the illegal activities by the LRA, from abduction to transforming children into soldiers of the army.

After all emotional scenes from the video, I started wondering why the video was only produced now. They said that the fighting has been going on for over 9 years but I just didn’t understand why they had to wait that long before producing the video. I Googled it and found they had done other videos based on the critical situation in Uganda with the aim of exposing Kony. They simply tell us that “time has come and that time is now”, they don’t explain clearly why they decided to take action this year, because of the 20 celebrities and 12 politicians are not enough reason. It doesn’t make any sense. So why now?
In addition, a lot of criticism about the campaign started appearing, saying that it was misleading and that it was a way of the campaign to earn money from the story. Stating that the LRA is not doing those kinds of activities anymore and the country’s situation is better. That the intentions were not pure as it seems, claiming that only a minor percentage is going to help the children. Some people originally from Uganda and who know the present situation there even said that the campaign is not telling all the truth about the Kony situation.

Also, some said it was focusing a lot on Kony and not in children. And that information about the dictator and the LRA forces was wrong, that they have moved to another area and are not considered a threat to Uganda anymore. Others said that raising awareness is not enough; other procedures should be taken in concern.

There were critics in any kind of terms, financial, moral, even geographical, saying that they did not show Uganda correctly on the map.
Since it has been criticized a lot and people wonder about its transparency, should we rely on that campaign? Or is it an example of a bad PR?

Any information published before should be checked, to see if the background of the story is correct, to have all the specific details. And in this case, it seems that the campaign did not do their homework.

They were using an image of someone who does not even know the existence of this video and might not be as cruel as it has been described.
Another example of bad PR in this campaign is the fact that a few weeks after the video was released, the creator of it Jason Russell was found in an uncomfortable situation, which counted as another critic for the campaign.

In January,  I watched a movie called the Machine gun preacher, which made me understand more what is happening on the other side of the world, I was very sad to know that people lived in those conditions and that life was so hard for those kids. When I watched the Kony video, I linked to it, and I was relieved that they are doing something to stop this tragedy. But after hearing a lot of news accusing the campaign of manipulating this story, I started wondering.

In the other hand, I believe this is the perfect example of the sharpness of PR. Using his son to make the video was the best strategy he could ever use; even though they could base more on the story, 30 minutes relying on a lot of persuasive quotes and creative video effect was crucial to the impact of it. Public Relations is about that, if the video was too long and too much documentary stuff on it, people would not stop to watch it and never would decide to help. That’s how media world works. And despite the criticism, they have done a good job. Even though they say that a minor percentage is going directly to the kids, it is still going.  It is a very human action and a way to look for justice.

I have no idea if this campaign is real as it seems or fake as the critics are portraying it. I just think that they are helping in a way, and that’s enough. The people who are criticized never had that kind of idea and never aimed to help these invisible children. However, even if they are taking advantage of the situation, they are still doing a good job by helping and providing better conditions to those kids who are suffering or had suffered a lot.
This campaign and its strategy of using the video just proved once again how good PR can control the world and how social media is helping either in creating a decent image of organizations or in spreading a buzz. I feel like there is no such a thing as bad PR, only the nonexistence of it.




Lunga Izata

April 2012

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