Posted At: November 8, 2013 10:15 a.m.
by Kyle Borland
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you know about the NSA scandal that has been plaguing the United States government. Every day it seems another story about whom we’re spying on comes out. From our own citizens to the people of Europe to Chinese bureaucrats — no one is safe.
The latest revelation might be the most damning so far. Recently it was uncovered that the United States government has been tapping the phone lines, emails and other communication methods of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, who is one of our closest allies. The unveiling of these wire taps has led to an international fury that the United States hasn’t seen in recent memory — with Germany leading the charge.
Germany’s anger and willingness to come to the front of this crusade are horrible for us as a country. Germany is the de facto leader of the European Union because of its strong economy (4th largest in the world) and because Germany has been carrying the rest of the EU on its back for years now with stimulus packages and bailouts. If Germany is mad at us, the entirety of Europe is mad and wants to do something about it. It’s worth noting that combined, the EU comprises the world’s largest economy.
How does this situation relate to public relations? International relations IS public relations.
There are several facets that make up PR, but let us hone in on a couple in particular: crisis communication and internal communications.
This is a blatant crisis situation, and the United States is handling it poorly. We’re spying on one of our closest allies, and our president has been caught lying about it. How would you handle this situation if it were a business? Apologize, tell the truth and make necessary concessions. Unfortunately being a superpower and other factors come into play in international relations, but the general idea is still the same.
In any situation, it is vital to consider your internal publics, and our government has done the opposite. Not only are we outraged by the spying on Merkel and other allies (at least, I am), but now we know there are files on every American across the country. They’re spying on us for our “security.” The government has lied to us and has never apologized.
As the NSA scandal continues to grow with new information, it is a perfect example of what can happen when a crisis situation is handled poorly. Anger and distrust continue to grow and because of it the United States is losing prestige around the world. But the ultimate question the government needs to be asking is: if American citizens – the most important public of all — don’t trust the government how can we expect the rest of the world to do so?