Welcome to London, world capital of reputation laundering. Really?

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Sometimes you read a news story and just can’t get it out of your head. I’ve been mulling over the Rwanda PR piece since I read it earlier this week.   

The whole article was bringing into question the ethics of London PR firms promoting, and I quote, ‘foreign regimes with some of the world’s worst human rights records.’ Talk about a loaded statement. The title set the tone with reference to reputation laundering as though it’s some sort of covert criminal activity being cooked up in PR brainstorms all over the capital. 

I’m not condoning airbrushing away the scars of horrific, blood-curdling genocide, but effective positioning will surely help a country to develop. Changing the image of a nation is no mean feat. But, when all of the media coverage we’ve ever seen is negative, then it’s only right that we’re offered a broader view. The weaknesses of the country should be properly managed and the best assets need promoting in order to encourage change. 

London is viewed as one of the most influential media centres in the world and this is why countries such as Rwanda are engaging PR agencies here. As consultants we have the expertise to advise about good reputation management. Companies with questionable ethics use PR agencies, so why shouldn’t a country (even one with a tough history) be entitled to try and influence potential investors, tourists and the media?