Pontiffs and Pyongyang: Putting the ‘P’ into PR

What have Kim Jong-Un and Pope Francis got in common? Both evoke the interest of a global audience transmitting their message through an attention-grabbing communications medium.

As Easter is just past us, it’s only natural that our attentions might turn towards the Vatican at this time of year. The rise and rise of Pope Francis has been interesting to watch so far – it certainly seems that the Vatican has chosen the right man for the job.

Pope Francis has moved from strength to strength, tackling all the thorny issues facing the Holy See straight on, unafraid to confront the difficult issues at hand, speaking with frankness to the media at every opportunity. He is engaged with social media – the @Pontiff Twitter feed has doubled its following since he took office – and never misses a good photo opportunity.

Whether he has been washing and kissing prisoners’ feet or signing the cast of a girl with a recently broken leg, he has been making a proactive effort to align himself with the grass roots of the Church. He is fit for purpose and managing the repositioning of the Church well.

On the other side of the world, another new(ish) leader has been grabbing global headlines: Kim Jong-Un. The epitome of vintage totalitarian cliché, Kim Jong-Un has been throwing any conceivable toy from the Pyongyang pram to try and assert himself as a force to be reckoned with in recent weeks. The global media lap up his lame photo opps, printing his ludicrous spiel.
The world has been growing weary of his radioactive rhetoric on the political front, but he has certainly proved himself prime material for political parody since he stepped into his father’s shoes. From Seth MacFarlane to The Onion, he has shown a talent for grabbing headlines, even if it may not be in the way he would like.

The Pontiff and The Leader in Pyongyang have one thing in common: the force of personality.

I am reminded of a Goebbels axiom: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”