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Malala’s Story, Brought to you by Edelman

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Posted At: October 21, 2013 4:50 p.m.
by Susan Griffiths

A year ago, a Pakistani girl was the target of a Taliban assassination attempt. Today, she is a beacon of hope. Fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was riding a bus to school when a member of the Taliban boarded her bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” Walking to the only girl without a face covering, he placed a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

She never had the chance to answer the assassin; however, a year later, she has become a leader of peace. After days of extensive surgery and multiple location changes, Malala woke up in a London hospital with full brain function and an even greater desire to change the world for the better.

Recently she met with President Barack Obama and gave her opinion on drone attacks. She is a best-selling author, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Malala and her story are incredible. Her bravery and desire to change Middle Eastern ideologies are nothing short of revolutionary. But what does this inspiring story have to do with PR?

Soon after Malala woke up in a London hospital bed, Edelman announced it was handling her media needs pro bono. Edelman staff worked to help the family deal with the waves of media and public interest. Together, the group created a Malala brand: a brand of hope, advocacy and peace.

With only five team members on her account, Edelman has successfully managed her press (there is currently a weeklong waiting period for any interviews), her book coverage and her humanitarian efforts.

While her story is one to be remembered for decades, without the help of a dedicated PR team, it could easily lose its message. Many are unaware of Edelman’s work in this particular story. The agency did not boast about it or advertise it; its staff merely provided their services.

A professor once told me, “The best PR is silent PR.” The greatest thing a PR team can do is allow the client to speak for herself. Edelman did just that. Behind every great story, there is a dedicated PR team amplifying the message.

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  1. Post comment

    Amazing work, Susan! I am surprised that I haven’t heard about Malala’s story yet, especially with the extensive amount of social media we have in the world. Your story had a wonderful emotional appeal to it; it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Aside from the emotional aspect of your story, I really enjoyed how you incorporated PR into it. People tend to overlook the fact that a major reason for a celebrity’s fame is because they have a successful PR team working hard behind the scenes. A friend of mine knows a few people who are a part of the country star Jason Aldean’s PR team. After Aldean cheated on his wife and was planning to file for divorce, he immediately called his PR practitioner to ask for advice on what to do. This example shows that celebrities are entirely dependent on their PR team. I also agree with your professor’s belief that the best PR is silent PR. A successful PR team allows the client to freely choose how they want to express their own ideas.

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  2. Post comment

    Interesting article, Susan. I agree with your platform that “The best PR is silent PR.” Representing a client that has such a powerful story is difficult. The PR team must be certain that exactly what the client stands for is being represented. However, is it acceptable to advocate for just the client and not their message? I feel that in addition to allowing the client to speak for themselves, a good PR team must also allow for promotional coverage. Anything worth reporting on has a main message or idea. A good PR team should be able to advocate a client’s idea as a whole and not just the specific client themselves.

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