Years of stories that depict pirates as villainous brutes have caused some serious reputation damage to the pirating business as a whole. So when a call came from The New York Times, pirate spokesperson Sugule Ali stepped up to offer a 45-minute interview and a never-before-seen level of transparency from the pirate community.
Speaking via satellite phone from a Ukrainian cargo ship that he and his colleagues hijacked off the coast of Somalia, Ali made it clear that his group was interested in money only; killing was not on the agenda.
According to the Times' article, although the Ukrainian vessel was carrying an estimated $30 million in weapons, the humble pirates were only seeking $20 million in cash to buy food to stave off hunger. From the story, we also learn that pirates are really just like us: they like spaghetti, they care about the environment, and they want peace in Africa.
Time and time again, PR pros wax poetic about engaging with audiences openly. Here, pirate Ali shows the way to being an able, available, and transparent spokesman, and readers find themselves feeling sympathetic toward the pirates who might be arrested for acting on their pirate instincts.
“We just saw a big ship, so we stopped it,” Ali says.
PR Play rating:
3. On the right track