Mom is the word in Russia, but Detroit-area communications specialists and their Ukrainian counterparts banned together to ensure journalists have access to truthful, undocked content so that the voices of the Ukrainian people are heard. .
“I am half Ukrainian-American and have been troubled by the raging war,” said Janine Krasicky Sadaj of J9 multimedia solutions, a public relations firm that represents clients in Macomb and Oakland counties and a member of Smart PR Inner Circle. “I tried to help Ukrainian PR professionals who volunteer to tell the truth about what is happening in Ukraine. I feel like it’s the least I can do. »
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday intensified his crackdown on media outlets and individuals who do not toe the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter.
The restrictions follow other blockages Putin has imposed on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvian site Meduza. A law that prohibits anyone from disseminating information that goes against the Russian government’s discourse on the war. In fact – even calling it a war is forbidden by President Putin’s Law, which was approved by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament, was signed into law. Journalists who violate it can be imprisoned for up to 15 years.
Several Western news outlets said they suspended reporting from Russia while they assessed the law and the safety of their employees. Twitter executives said in a statement that while the company is aware of reports that its platform is blocked in Russia, it was unable to confirm if this is the case.
“The question about Russia is no longer what we do to stop disinformation,” said Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia. “The question must be how to promote information inside Russia, and I don’t have the answer.”
Hoping to shed light on the media blackout, a group of communications specialists operate Operation: Help Ukraine tell the truth to the world. The grassroots effort was launched in Ukraine amid the growing number of fake images, narratives and other propaganda that Russia is spreading in the media. Since then, the group in Ukraine and volunteers like Sadaj from Smart PR Inner Circle have created a Google form where journalists can request testimonies from experts, volunteers, eyewitnesses, and photos and videos from the war. in Ukraine.
“Before February 24, 2022, we were communication specialists in different companies. But due to the Russian terror in our homeland, we had to quit our jobs and unite our power to protect our land on the information front,” Antonina Ria said in a press release. “We volunteer to speak the truth from Ukraine. We believe its power is stronger than false Russian propaganda. Now we connect the media with the eyes, ears, voices and minds of Ukrainians, who had to fight for the values of sovereignty and democracy in the 21st century.
Their impassioned plea to the media was: “You know it’s a very difficult time for Ukraine right now. Today, more than ever, we need your support to share the truth about war. A large number of PR specialists have gathered to help you with the content you need. Fill out the form and we’ll help you receive content based on the topics you cover. Stay with Ukraine! Thank you all for your support and your contribution to the fight for democratic values in the world.
Sadaj said the group’s database includes several publications covering the crisis.
“Every time I see a story, I try to see if the reporter is in their database and pull the info from MuckRack or Cision so they have the email address and the info about the social networks of anyone who covers the war,” said Sadaj, whose grandfather father was born in Markopol, Ukraine and mother was born in Zawrsvan. “They married in Galacia in 1912 and came to the United States. My grandmother Olga Osepczuk (maiden name) was also born in the United States. Her mother Tillie Osepczuk was born in Ukraine and her sister is still there. Actually, I’m not in contact with anyone in Ukraine yet, but I know I have family there, so I wanted to do something to help the war effort.
But this is not the first time that public relations specialists have mobilized during a crisis.
At the height of the pandemic, when countries closed their borders and airlines canceled flights, they used their global connections to help Americans get home, or volunteered their time to help other unrepresented groups to advertise the services.
“We are communication specialists,” said Adrienne Lenhoff, President and CEO of Buzz Phoriawhich also helps businesses in Ukraine.
“I represent a software company that has 200 employees in Ukraine,” she said. “We’re working on strategies to communicate with them, so they know the whole company is behind them and supporting their cause.”
One would assume that with a war going on, businesses would come to a halt, but that is not the case.
“They are fighting for their country. They fight for their lives and continue to work. It shows how resilient and dedicated these people are and it says don’t step back and don’t let them down,” said Lenhoff, who has worked in public relations for years and is very proud of how his industry works. and his colleagues joined forces to try to make a difference.
“Truth matters,” said Mykola Murskyj, chairwoman of Michigan’s Ukrainian-American Crisis Response Committee. “Getting information from people on the ground in Ukraine to our communities and the general public should be a top priority. Telling their stories is extremely effective.