Iran’s PR problem


Daniel M Pourkesali
by Daniel M Pourkesali

Let’s face it; Iran has a major public relations problem when it comes to its perceived image around the world particularly here in the west.

Public relations or PR is the management of information flow from an individual, an organization or an entire government to its target audience. Those working in PR are called publicists who are often scored on how best they can present an individual, a company or in this case a government in good light to the rest of the world. Good PR can not be accomplished without establishing even a better relationship with credible media, both foreign and domestic, who are responsible for selling it to the public.

Judging from the universally unenthusiastic if not outright negative perception of Iran, it is time that its publicists, namely those who represent Iran in various international arenas, finally realized some of their vast shortcomings. As with any other high-profile company when portrayed in negative light, it relies on its public relations people to quickly spring into action, take the offensive and perform competent and efficient “damage control”.

There is a Persian proverb that states ‘Sokoot alamat-e rezaast’ or ‘Silence is sign of approval’. When it comes to PR, silence or a haphazard inappropriate response is outright detrimental. Following is an example of an Iran PR hit followed by one of colossal disaster.

US Navy Encounter in the Strait of Hormuz

Iran's quick release of its own video taken on the morning of Sunday, January 6th 2008 in the Strait of Hormuz, promptly discredited Pentagon's hype of depicting a routine patrolling operation by the Iranian Navy as an act of unfathomable aggression against the United States. Taken completely off guard by that timely reaction, the story was hurriedly changed and the entire incident blamed on a phantom prankster given the name of ‘Filipino Monkey’.

“Wiped off the Map” remark regarding Israel

At a Ministry of Interior conference on Wednesday October 26th, 2005 newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program titled “The World Without Zionism” repeated a quote from the late Ayatollah Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism: "Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad" which when properly translated from Persian reads: “Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”.

Note there were no references to Israel, wiping off, or maps. He then proceeded to accentuate that quote by listing examples of three such ‘regimes’ that had since collapsed or vanished in the last 30 years: The Shah and his monarchy, The Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

Ironically, the wrong translation containing the seditious "wiped off the map" quote was disseminated by Iran itself. Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) used this phrasing in the English version of some of its news releases which was quickly picked up by the International media without verifying its accuracy. Virtually every media outlet has published this false statement and every political pundit continues to repeat it on a daily basis. Most if not all of the pro-war camp’s case against Iran’s nuclear program is based on the lie that it has vowed to physically ‘wipe out’ Israel.

For the wellbeing sake of its 70 million people, the Iranian government must show more sensitivity to foreign opinion polls and do a far better job of protecting its perceived international image. Canon’s success of its most profitable ad campaign in company’s history “Image is Everything” was attributed to the fact that in today’s image conscious world, style and packaging do win over content and substance.

Just ask Sarah Palin.


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Farhad Kashani

Wow, see how these IRI

by Farhad Kashani on

Wow, see how these IRI supporters try to make the regime look innocent and victim!! IRI has a "PR problem"???!! No! U.S has a huge PR problem cause the whole world has ganged up on it to try to bering its power down and it has nothing to do with what U.S does, whether right or wrong. The very fact that the U.S is the major superpower, has given it a huge PR problem.

IRI's existance is the "problem", and nothing else. The very barbaric, terrorism inspiring and supporting, brutal, opressive, Iran-hating of this regime is the "problem". What the IRI says, does, inspires and represents is the "problem". Its us Iranian people, who because of the nature and actions of this regime, have a huge "PR problem". Whether you meet an European in Europe, or an Arab in an Arabic country, or a Chinese in China (I met all 3), they think of us a some backward jihadis, where infact, its the regime thats a backward Jihadi, not us.  

Kaveh Nouraee

Beyond The Point of No Return

by Kaveh Nouraee on

Anonymous7: Although you claim that Mr. Pourkesali is simplifying the issue, the four points you raise in fact breaks it down, which is pretty much the same thing.

Looti: You bring up a very valid point, but remember, the monarchy also had a PR problem. The fundamental difference is that while the IRI's image is negative throughout the world, the negativity towards the monacrhy was more on a domestic level (from within the borders).

The IRI mindset precludes it from being able to benefit from any kind of PR campaign. They have been, still are, and will always be their own worst enemy. 

Trying to improve the IRI's PR is the real definition of "putting lipstick on a pig".

Darius Kadivar


by Darius Kadivar on






Darius Kadivar

Hey Pourkesali Let Me Help ! ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

From One King to Another. Do Yourself good Let me Help:

Darius Kadivar

FYI/ RP doing PR for himself with French Parliamentarians

by Darius Kadivar on

Seems doing well all by himself. From Last Summer in Paris:

Darius Kadivar

One more for the Trip ? ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Can I offer you a glass of Wine Daniel Jan ? With this video for the Treat : 

Darius Kadivar

Why Not Try an RP instead ? ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Give it a try you may like it. LOL


No PR No Love

by amirkabear4u on

For a change this is a different topic. Ideally with a government like IRI one should not expect much anyway. What is it they done which makes majority of Iranian feel proud. Anything you can think of. No. Well why should they have their public relations going. This PR is more complicated than one might believe, maybe this is why developed countries are better at it.

Historically a lot of activities not done properly in Iran. Our driving, our business, our economy, our politics and many more issues are not done correctly. I just give you one example. PR and hospitality go hand in hand. Iranian are famous for hospitality but why is it in Iranian hospitality industry, e.g. hotels or restaurants, only rich customers are seriously looked after. It is true to say improvement and caring improves PR. Is IRI famous for caring? Well this is why they probably nor discovered PR yet.

PR has invisible links to better business, any business. It improves human contact and bond. Although must remember it is strange other countries with hospitality fame are short of PR too, unless they are not registered as third world country.

Big corporations send their PR personnel for training but I do not think IRI officials ever heard of it. Worth than this is people like pahlavis who are used to dealing with westerners are also lacking PR. Even today you will find members of pahlavi family who spend a good half of their lives in developed countries still thing PR just means hospitality and they are so good at bragging about Iranian hospitality. If shah's government had a far better PR not only with its own people but also with foreigners would mullahs so easily take over Iran? Even 2000 years ago Romans knew and used this PR to their advantage.

The lack of understanding of PR brings me to the whole cause of such shortfall. Why any government that takes over Iran is like this? To answer this you need to ask yourself what good this PR does for any governments. It makes them wanted and liked. Would you support a government if their officials insulted you? Off course not.

Maybe the whole idea is Iran should never be an stable and democratic country therefore does not need PR anyway.



by Zion on

Daniel, who are you complaining about? yourselves? What are you saying man?
You are just not doing your job. It's a real hard one, though. Don't be too rough on yourselves. :-)


CASMII lobby make-up

by Fred on

CASMII lobbyist says: “For the wellbeing sake of its 70 million people, the Iranian government must show more sensitivity to foreign opinion polls and do a far better job of protecting its perceived international image.”


 How about for the wellbeing of 70 million people the Islamist republic must show more sensitivity to the Iranians’ opinion and begin with stopping the limbs chopping, stonings, eye gougings, lashings and hangings. And then move on to some more basic human rights that are wholly missing in their supposedly misunderstood Islamist Shangri-La.


Finally, Is the CASMII lobbyist going to accompany his boss on his declared welcoming of the Islamist installed prez?


Iran's Image Problem....

by Looti (not verified) on

Comes from a single source: Shia Sharia Jurisprudence under the leadership of Ayatollahs and Hezbollahis. Get rid of them and your PR problem will go away at speed of light.


PR to the rescue

by KillTortureRob and hite it with PR (not verified) on

"For the wellbeing sake of its 70 million people, the Iranian government must show more sensitivity to foreign opinion polls and do a far better job of protecting its perceived international image."

Is that all the IRI must do for the "well being" of its 70 million citizen? In my next trip to Iran, I will recommend you for IRI's PR manager position. 


PR problem is understatement of the century

by Anonymous8 (not verified) on

it's more like a PR disaster. Of course, only Madison avenue charlatan "ad executives" can solve major PR problems, as they have for Saudi Arabia and China. Those offices are closed to Iranians however.

On the translation, it's not a secret that IRNA people are incompetent. But in retrospect it really does not matter HOW he put it, the other side would have made it sound like genocide no matter what.


Trying to Make the Devil Look Innocent

by Anonymous7 (not verified) on

Dear Mr. Pourkesali,

I really think you are simplifying IRI's image/PR problem.

For example, as to Ahmadinejad, the statements about Israel is not a one time thing, regardless of the inaccurate translation by the IRI itself as you correctly refer to. Khomeini talked about Israel once in a while (while he approved weapon purchases from the Zionists). This Ahmadinejad guy has a statement about Israel once a week. These statements include:

1) Send the Jews to Alaska, Europe or Canada

2) Questioning of Holocaust and "if it occurred" why the palestinians had to pay the price

3) Referring to Israel as the "Stinking Corpse"

4) Saying that "European peoples have suffered the greatest damage from Zionists"

Then you have the Holocaust denial conference where they invite David Duke- a KKK racist who probably hates all non blue eyed, non blond people. Then they have a world without Zionism conference. Do you think that picking on Jews (yeh Zionists) or Holocaust on a weekly/monthly basis is a smart thing? Even if its meant for domestic or Middle Eastern consumption? Aren't there better issues for Ahmadinejad and the IRI to discuss rather than the classic European scapegoats - the Jews (yeh Zionists)?

To add insult to injury and to put more salt on a wound, Iran conducts public executions, executes children, homosexuals, adulterers, arrests Bahai leaders, has weekly protests where people walk and burn the American, British and Israeli Flags
and there are images of all of this type idiotic and stupid behavior for all of us to see on a weekly basis in the world media.

You are worried about IRI's PR problem and image? You think this image/PR think can be fixed with this type of behavior?

I think its a little to late for the IRI to try and fix its image. It would be easier to defend the devil and improve his image than fixing IRI's image.