Special wartime edition

Friday I emailed the 100+ Ukrainians who subscribe to these posts and asked them how our PR community can help them.

Three things struck me from their responses:

  • They don’t think that we in the West know what’s actually going on – tragically, it appears they are accustomed to propaganda prevailing.
  • They are furiously applying their craft to tell the truth to journalists, doing their part to save their nation.
  • Even though few of them know each other, they are expertly coalescing around a few key messages that are getting traction and making a difference. Note several governments’ 180-degree turns this weekend on the issues of delivering weapons and banning Russian banks from SWIFT.

Like you, I’ve been heartbroken and inspired by images of men streaming into Ukraine from Poland, women in Kyiv trading keyboards for Kalashnikovs, and a president creating a legend in real time with cell phone videos and a Telegraph account. I'm also heartbroken by the Russian lives lost and disrupted by the decisions of a powerful few. Here are responses representative of 18 replies received so far. Names omitted for their safety, but they are all heroes.

Dear Michael, 
Thanks to you. I feel scared and helpless. I hear bombings right now. I woke up because my mom called me from Eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv, at 5:11am. My friends are lying on the floor in their apartments in Kyiv right NOW. We try to spread info in English as much as we can, given the internet connection. We also give comments to journalists and try to find them Ukrainian speakers. Ukraine HAS to sound loud. If you do want to help, please ask your colleagues from media to share the truthful information about Russia invading Ukraine and to support Ukraine in its attempts to impose sanctions on Russia. I am scared. I am begging everyone to help.

Hello Michael,
As a pr pro please tell the world that Russia is killing us. I live in Kyiv, I used to live in Kyiv. Yesterday I woke up because of 2 explosions, our army neutralised 2 rockets. One of them has fallen into a living building. We managed to move to western Ukraine by car. Here we have signals of air danger, they bombed airport and chemical plant. Here the fights are in Kyiv, many of my friends and colleagues are there still.
 – MK

Dear Michael, 
thank you so much for this letter. I'm L—-, a 21-year-old PR specialist. I stayed in Kyiv. Opened an email to send pitches to international outlets on events happening right now. I want you to know that hundreds of PR & comms specialists united to share the voice abroad. Telegram messenger became the place of an informational fight against Russia. If you can help us as a PR specialist, we would be glad to take any help.

Hello Michael!
You are not wrong – I am a citizen of Ukraine. Currently The Russian Federation is attacking Ukraine and kill even civilians. They bomb civilian houses and even kindergartens. Our nation is very brave and we do all when we can. But we need support from foreigners. We need to tell the truth, because a lot of people think them Russia is here to rescue us. This is an awful lie – they are ruining our country. Our guys are doing good and we very appreciate our army. But they need help and support! 

We do appreciate everything the world is doing for us. Though it is not enough. Putin won’t stop, he is already killing the civilians and kids. Me and my family we are located in Lviv, it’s close to Poland’s boarder, so so far we are safe. Our relatives in Kyiv don’t sleep and are staying in metropolitan or underground parking. We pray and believe in our army. Please, do realize in case there’s not correct info that you might have, we are peaceful nation, but Russia want to destroy our nation. It’s not about a military operation, it’s about destroying our nation and demilitarization.

A summary of what they request we do

Many of them urged us to read and share reliable news from Ukraine and recommend the Kyiv Independent. They also urged us to spread the word to donate to their cause. Here's a list of causes/charities that has been vetted and approved by Ukrainians.

Here’s a final response that summarizes the calls to action that most of them shared (as of Friday):
– We believe cutting them off from SWIFT could help. Italy, Germany, Cyprus, and other countries seem to be held up on this. 
– Pressure your local MP’s and government to send more arms, weapons, and financial aid. We are fighting the second-strongest army in the world. We require all the help we can get.   
– Force your governments for sanctions; 
– We need your help! Please stop Russian aggression, it's the last chance to stop worldwide war. 

To all my readers, thank you for reading this far. If you’ve been moved by any of these messages, I invite you to take one step today to act on those feelings. The grim reality is that I felt compelled to post this message today, because if I waited until the usual day for this weekly post, Thursday, it might have been too late. Words that I never imagined I'd use to close one of these posts:

Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes.

This article was originally published on February 28, 2022

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