Papal PR

(BBC World News)

There are two very interesting PR aspects of the Pope’s U.S. visit. First, check out the extreme vetting and process involved for journalists as described by the Washington Post. Media must join the corps for the entire tour:

“Bubble residents no longer question another standard rule: If you wish to travel on one leg of the pope’s trip, you must travel on the whole thing, for security and reasons of (papal) organizational ease, you’re told. When you live in Washington — not Rome — this means purchasing first the fare for a heavily secured papal flight at nearly $5,000, another Washington-Rome round-trip ticket and (I hope you’re seated) hotel rooms in New York and Washington!”

Second, the Pope caught the press off guard a bit by setting the tone of his visit by answering a question–in English, not Italian–about the clergy sex abuse scandals while still on the plane.

Yesterday, the Pope met privately with carefully selected victims. The subtext is that the problem is finally acknowledged, while at arm’s length. For example, he will not be traveling to Boston, ground zero for the scandals. Coverage of the abuse won the Boston Globe a Pulitzer in 2003. You can see their coverage of the Pope’s visit here.

He will also not be meeting directly with the two largest support organizations Voice of the Faithful, and SNAP, both critical in keeping this crisis in the news.

It’s interesting to see how it’s being addressed on this rare visit, and how the Vatican may be willing to regard the U.S. as a “declining market” of influence. It’s hard to fathom in our culture, but the Vatican’s PR plan may span decades, not days.

PRNewser disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this blog post are specifically about the public relations aspects of the topic. Sometimes our industry blog is perceived more as a mainstream news blog.