Jared Cohen is First PR Hero of Iranian Crisis

The first PR hero of the Iranian election crisis is Jared Cohen, a 27-year-old State Department employee.  What did Cohen do?  He took the initiative to call executives at Twitterand ask them to postpone a planned maintenance check of the system that would have closed down the service.  This request was made specifically to give Iranian citizens a chance to Tweet updates to the outside world, as the government continued its crackdown of western news reports.

Media Bistro’s BayNewser has a great profile of Cohen today.  Cohen is employed by the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff specifically to advise the US government on how to use social media to communicate in the Middle East.  A Rhodes Scholar from Oxford, Cohen was 24 when he visited the Middle East and was profiled in a story in the New Yorker.  He later wrote a book of his experiences, titled Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East.

What Cohen did was showcase the importance of social media to deliver a message in a time of crisis.  While media can be locked up, have their cameras taken away and prohibited from broadcasting through normal channels, the power of the internet to transmit the  truth is something that is almost impossible to stop.

In the long run, what Cohen did may ultimately be forgotten or may not matter in the eventual outcome of the Iranian election. However, that phone call to Twitter on behalf of the United States Government certainly acknowledged the power of this social media resource. 

Twitter most likely will be replaced by a new social media tool, but what will not change is the role of the communicator in the process. 

Those communicators that adapt to the new technologies and tools will be able to deliver their message on behalf of clients, companies or even governments, regardless of the situation facing them.

Jared Cohen took the initiative to ensure that an important communications tool remained available to citizens of another country in time of crisis.

Are we as communicators taking the initiative to ensure that we are using all of the tools available on behalf of our clients and companies?

Tom Cosentino

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