PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Brooks finds PR savvy is all in the cards

DOHA, QATAR: "There are jokers in this deck, no doubt about that," quipped the usually ultra-sober Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks as he stood before the usual throng of reporters at the Central Command briefing center.

DOHA, QATAR: "There are jokers in this deck, no doubt about that," quipped the usually ultra-sober Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks as he stood before the usual throng of reporters at the Central Command briefing center.

The moment of levity came as Brooks surprised reporters by unveiling a deck of playing cards that seemed part troop diversion and part Most Wanted poster. The playing cards, which were distributed to coalition forces, feature pictures of 55 top members of the fallen Iraqi regime, which coalition leaders now want dead or alive. For instance, Saddam is the ace of spades. The deck's unveiling in and of itself would have amounted to a smart PR move, as the reporters stationed at the briefing center have grown restless in recent weeks from the perceived lack of real information and news coming from Brooks' daily briefings. This was demonstrated a few weeks back when the CentCom press pack spontaneously applauded when New York columnist Michael Wolf aimed several pointed questions at Brooks. Wolf asked, "Why should we stay? What's the value to us for what we learn at this million-dollar press center?" Nevertheless, besides providing the media with at least one story that day, the Iraqi rogues' gallery playing cards also seem to serve as a great communications tool on at least two levels. First, the deck served an immediate practical function by showing the troops what members of the Iraqi regime look like. Secondly, the cards' subtlety reinforced the notion that the Hussein regime was on the run, and the only major wartime task left was to round up the suspects. This was best demonstrated by the tone of the media's coverage of the cards, which was best captured by a one-line lead in the New York Daily News. It read simply, "Once again, the deck is stacked against Saddam Hussein."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in