Beers unveils a campaign to boost East-West dialog

WASHINGTON: Undersecretary of state for public affairs and public

diplomacy Charlotte Beers has finally unveiled the first stage of her

long-awaited strategy for telling America's story to overseas audiences,

particularly in Muslim countries.



What it does not include is perhaps as notable as what it does, given

Beers' illustrious Madison Avenue career. It does not, as she had hinted

in October, emphasize American-style advertising on Al-Jazeera TV, and

it does not involve a sole spokesperson to help "brand" the country.



"I think it's unlikely that you're going to see anything quite as

dramatic as a Coca-Cola spot," she warned a gathering of foreign

journalists at the State Department's Foreign Press Center on November

9.



What the campaign does involve is various initiatives designed to "open

a dialog" with the Arab world.



In the interest of streamlining communications with foreign journalists

and media outlets, Beers and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher

informed the gathering of the many resources - mostly on the internet -

where they could find the US side of the story. These include

transcripts, daily messages, and documents produced by the

government.



Beers then announced the formation of an advisory group called Dialog

with Islam, consisting of "experts in the Muslim world, scholars, and

academics," who had helped Beers "develop messages for the rest of the

world," and would continue to do so.



A lengthy brochure outlining the genesis of the American military

campaign in Afghanistan will be sent to US embassies around the world,

and may be included in foreign newspapers and magazines. The only thing

approaching an actual commercial is a four-minute video showing the

devastation from the September 11 attacks, which Beers hopes to place on

TV stations and websites worldwide.



Other initiatives include materials promoting the "Rewards for Justice"

program, which pays for information leading to the capture of

terrorists, and a new initiative called "Can a Woman Stop Terrorism?"

which tells the stories of women who have come forward and aided in the

capture of terrorists.



Beers said that she had worked with the Ad Council on developing some of

these materials, but VP of corporate communications Susan Jacobson said

that the council declined to help with the "Rewards for Justice"

materials. Those items, which include stickers as a means of reaching

those with little access to media, were instead produced in conjunction

with Ogilvy & Mather, where Beers served as CEO from 1992 to 1996.



- See Profile in next week's issue.



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