We live in a 24/7 media news world, where everything is broadcast moments after it is made known.  This is the problem that Secretary of State John Kerry has.

Some background information – he was in a closed room conversation with other governmental and international officials and he mentioned that Israel would turn into an apartheid state if it could not come to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Now, anyone who has been educated about the history of ethnocentricity wars will be aware that South Africa was an apartheid society where the Anglo-African population existed in a higher caste of society with more privileges than the African indigenous caste.  By comparing Israel and South Africa of the past century Kerry irked many people.  How did this even become known?  Because this is hot news and someone leaked it to the press, who went into outrage about the comparison, which large swathes of which are calling for his resignation.

If Kerry had been thinking in a PR sense, he would have realized there are ramifications for using certain words, especially in an international setting with partisan politics.  Whether his is an accurate assessment or not is moot in PR. What counts is that he said it.  His PR team should have let him know that this was a grenade not to lob.  On the other hand, a good PR team would have told him that this was a topic that could be broached using different words.  Saying that Israel needed to be more open to the idea of a two-state solution because it would create a better sense of belonging and hold the Palestinians accountable for their national actions, is a better way to make his point than being negative and informing his audience that Israel risked becoming an apartheid state.

In conclusions, Kerry has made piecemeal of what could have been a non-issue for him.  Not consulting a PR team, or not hiring a PR team to help cover your tracks when you stick your foot in your mouth can cause more damage in the long run than spending that time and money beforehand.

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