By now, the world has heard. South African officials hired a fake sign language interpreter to work at the largest public event that country has seen, well, ever. With new information pouring into the public sphere every day, South Africa is facing a PR crisis.
Yes, the country has been seen as backward, dangerous, bigoted and many other negatives. But, many of those perspectives were erased by the heroic tenure of Nelson Mandela, the man whose funeral was desecrated by the goofy schizophrenic fake.
Worse, information has come out that the South African government has used this guy before. Come again???
Yep. In fact, some have said this is a fairly common occurrence in South Africa. Talk about your PR problems. Ronn Torossian breaks them down.
#1 – Looking foolish
When it came out that the government had used this fake interpreter before, and received complaints about him then, the country didn’t look stupid … they looked foolish. The entire world wondered why they didn’t learn from their mistakes. Further, they started asking when they ever would.
#2 – Looking incompetent
That’s not to say the government didn’t look silly, as well. Seriously, you can’t look at that guy, and not see a dozen Saturday Night Live, or Light Nite sketches in the making. He’s a national disgrace, eclipsed only by the people who hired him in the first place.
#3 – Looking dangerous
But, all joking aside, this admittedly crazy person was standing mere feet from some of the most powerful, and influential political figures on the planet. This could have gone bad. Really, incredibly, fatally bad. Thankfully, it did not. But, it did look horrendous, and that potential for carnage lands squarely in the lap of South Africa’s media relations team.
But, there is a bright spot. Now that they have such an incredibly bright spotlight on their country, South African officials can use that light to their advantage. They can promote what’s amazing about their country, and celebrate the many successes.
But will they? Because, the world is watching.