Newly inaugurated Iranian president Hassan Rouhani isn’t the only politician who tried and failed to achieve a PR win by following Vladimir Putin’s controversial op-ed placement strategy.
Arizona Senator John McCain also saw Putin’s score as a call to action, but in the process he unintentionally provided us with another case demonstrating the value of a well-crafted PR strategy. McCain wanted to place his “Russians Deserve Better Than Putin” article in Pravda, the official state publication of the Communist Party, but instead it ended up on Pravda.ru, a site that “is not connected to Pravda newspaper”. While the site “covers everything from politics to fashion and celebrities”, its editors were even less receptive to McCain’s message. They quickly ran follow-ups calling his piece an “insolent and arrogant rant” written from “the microscopic viewpoint of a mouse”—which is very similar to the way McCain’s congressional colleagues responded to the Putin article.
Adding insult to injury, Pravda‘s editors confirmed that they would never publish a piece by McCain unless it hewed to the Party’s official line, and Putin told the press at an event that he was “not aware” of the senator’s contribution to the debate.
The fact that even the real Pravda lacks the influence and readership it had during the Cold War era just reinforces the futility of McCain’s attempt at stirring up some sort of conversation. Most media mentions of his op-ed that we’ve seen use it as an excuse to mock him, which is hardly a signal of a successful campaign.
Again, he should have hired Ketchum. They wouldn’t have let this happen.