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Friday Five: International Edition

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The invention of the internet has helped the world become one global village. We are no longer bound by our borders; rather we can share information and ideas with people throughout the world seamlessly and instantaneously. As communicators, the public relations industry has embraced this. It is not only interesting to hear about new laws, viral trends and cultural differences in other countries; rather, it is vital for public relations leaders to keep up with international news or risk being caught off guard.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five”– an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary – we discuss news impacting the international communications community. Canada’s new, tough anti-spam law, Germany’s “right to be forgotten” on Google, Russia’s content journalism website, and China’s Communist Party’s PR training are all covered in this week’s post. We’ll also discuss the defense of #BringBackOurGirls and international hashtag activism.

Canada is Set to Become a Spam Free Zone (Spin Sucks)

As of July 1, Canada will implement what some are calling the world’s toughest anti-spam laws. The author of the article, Lindsay Bell, said, “The regulations are hard core. Mess around, or ignore ‘silly little Canada’s silly new laws,’ and you could face fines of up to one million dollars for an individual, and 10 million dollars for an organization.”

Just because you work for a United States-based company, does not mean you will be exempt from these laws. Ask yourself these important questions:

  • Does your company have a presence in Canada?
  • Is your email service provider based in Canada?
  • Do you have Canadian subscribers?

Visit the blog post for more information on the new regulations and how you can protect yourself and your company.

Google Agrees: Germans Have a ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ (PR Newser)

Google has agreed with German privacy officials and created a “right to be forgotten” option online. This option will allow people to submit formal complaints about any link they happen to dislike. According to the article, the feature will debut in approximately two weeks. The author, Patrick Coffee, discusses the impact the ruling may have on public relations professionals.

“It’s important to note that, for now at least, said mechanism will only apply to German citizens–and Google gives no details about how it will work or guarantees that complaints will be handled in any particular way. At the very least, it’s safe to say that thousands, if not millions, of Germans will soon be doing a bit of search engine anti-optimization work. We expect to hear about a whole lot of quibbling over legitimate, if unflattering, news stories.”

Read the full article on PR Newser, along with responses from seven PR experts in a follow up article.

Putin Spin Doctors Pitch Russian Pancakes, Ignore Ukraine (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that, a content journalism site created by public relations firm, Ketchum, is reporting many human-interest stories from Russia, but little (if any) news on the violence in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin testing his military’s combat readiness, or his government’s crackdown on the press.

According to the article, the biggest headlines of the site are about topics like “BMX biking, advances in nanotechnology, and the opening of a Russian pancake house in New York.” The English language site is focused on economic development and investment for Russia.

The article explains, “So far, nothing in U.S. or EU sanctions prevents PR agencies or other professional-services firms from taking on most Russian clients, even those with links to the state. Both sets of measures largely affect military and political figures rather than companies or organizations.” Read the full article on Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

In Defense of #BringBackOurGirls and Hashtag Activism (

Since the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by terrorist group Boko Haram, there has been controversy on whether the hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls can be beneficial by prompting the return of the children to their families. The author, Ben Scott, believes it can.

He said: “Of course, millions of Americans tweeting about a country that most of them cannot find on a map is hardly a weighty gesture…but #bringbackourgirls does serve a purpose. Hashtag activism’s most important function is to divert public attention to new subjects, and in ways that stir conviction. It contributes to a process of “agenda setting” that drives the news media. The media you consume may not dictate your views, but it does focus your attention by elevating stories and topics.”

To read the full article, visit

China’s Communist Party Learns The Fine Art Of Public Relations (NPR Blog, Parallels)

A host at Shanghai People’s Radio, Qin Chang, taught a class on press conferences at China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai. Chang invited NPR Shanghai correspondent, Frank Langfitt, to listen in on the session. Chang explained to the students the importance of openness in certain situations, like when the government waited nearly a day to tell their citizens their water was too dangerous to drink after a benzene spill.

Langfitt explained, “Openness doesn’t come naturally to China’s Communist Party. After all, China is an authoritarian state where people have little right to know how they are governed. But Communist Party schools have been trying to change that over the years by teaching officials how to deal with the news media.”

Read the whole story, including an account of why Langfitt was asked to leave.

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

1 Comment

  • True, being caught off guard is never a good plan. Always being prepared is optimal. Let’s be honest, though, it can be hard to always be prepared for the right thing. As the owner of a franchise PR firm , it can be rather hard to know what’s next, all the time. But, as someone in PR, we have to be ready for anything. Thanks for the post.

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