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PR lessons from mercenaries

The Wagner Group’s ‘mutiny’ offers clues for organisations fighting for their interests.

A common frustration of executives is the lack of upside from engaging in Government consultations and process. The failure is not because the arguments aren’t well-made or believable. It’s because government relations is ultimately a power game.

Many organisations don’t even realise they have power. That’s the nub of the task for PR people – to help organisations find power and express it.

· 𝐊𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 (𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐬). Prigozhin knew his power was with 25,000 mercenaries and the symbolism of tanks rolling into Russian cities. It was soon apparent the Russian top brass was not with him and, fortunately for Prigozhin, he was self-aware enough to realise that.

· 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. The mutiny was preceded with months of belligerent talk critical of the Russian State, which, although not a serious threat by itself, elevated the perceived ‘threat level’ for Putin when the mutiny occurred.

· 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. The removal of 25,000 Wagner troops from the front line during the Ukrainian counter offensive hit Russia at a time of vulnerability.

· 𝐆𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞. In the hours before the mutiny, Prigozhin widened his criticisms to include the pretence for war with accusations of the state lying to its people. This endeared his cause to ordinary Russians, wary of war and cynical of the government and institutions.

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