You can’t move for stories on every possible media platform concerning the current situation in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. From right wing tabloids to lefty broadsheets, national radio stations to local news sites, it seems everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done. More so, everyone has an opinion on what’s currently being done.
It’s understandable. With unprecedented numbers of people trying to gain access to the EU nobody can blame those living within the borders for chipping in their two-cents. This, after all, is what free press and freedom of speech is all about; the ability to offer a perspective to the public, without the risk of persecution or repercussions. Which brings to mind an interesting conundrum, particularly in terms of those voicing negative thoughts towards people fleeing war zones. If we were in the predicament many refugees have found themselves in- through no fault of their own- there’s a good chance we would not be able to sound off about that predicament.
Such is the nightmare of oppression, and countries spiralling into violent chaos.
Here at Smoking Gun PR we don’t see it as our role to wade in with a blog allying ourselves to anyone. As has already been stated above, there are (more than) enough voices doing that already. But from the perspective of a digitally-minded agency, to see how responses are being organised, publicised and disseminated across the world is rather interesting.
Yesterday we listened to a special edition of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent which, amongst other things, discussed some of the xenophobic statements and actions currently coming out of Central Europe. Perhaps the most shocking example being a Czech newspaper that ran an online poll- since removed with apology- asking if readers would ‘resurrect Hitler’ in order to solve the ‘problem’ should the opportunity arise.
The point being that there is an awful lot of very unwelcoming (to put it mildly) rhetoric surrounding this current refugee crisis, particularly on the ‘front line’, and therefore it’s easy to see how- when faced with the difficulties of getting out of a country riddled with bullet holes, making the treacherous crossing to Europe, and then being greeted with anger and resentment- many of these vulnerable people could start to believe everyone in the EU feels the same.
Hence why we’re so impressed with the charity, Doctors of the World. Thanks to the organisation there is now a digital map tracking positive social media sentiment regarding the refugee crisis, which was set up after those working for the organisation noticed a shift in attitudes following the infamous picture of the drowned toddler on a Turkish beach (our weekly high in last week’s Blagger’s Blog, simply because it’s a stunning example of photojournalism at its most powerful).
“We wanted our contribution to help drive change – and by visualising the very real issues faced by refugees in combination with positive stories of support throughout Europe, the map offers an accessible way for Britons to understand the current crisis. Partnering our creative and technical teams with the expertise of Doctors of the World has produced an awareness tool that we believe can have real impact,” Michael Scantlebury, creative director and founder of digital, creative and social agency Impero, who made the map, told The Drum.
This is just one example of how digital is helping unite people of shared values in the light of the current crisis. Another would be Facebook, which is now full of groups organising everything from solidarity marches to supply trips to Calais, collection points for donations of vital materials, food products and other items, and UK residents who want to offer accommodation to the new arrivals when they finally make it to this country’s borders.
Take a look at the map here; #RefugeesWelcome
We’ll be keeping an eye on more digital efforts to help the refugee crisis. If you know of any please use the comments form below, or tweet @SmokingGunPR.