Malala Yousafzai, is the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who rose to global fame and adoration following her brave recovery from gunshot wounds inflicted on her by a Taliban gunman in her native Swat Valley. She has been strongly advocating the cause of women’s education, which has triggered a backlash and resentment in Pakistan.
Since her airlift to Great Britain late last year, Malala has not only received free reconstruction surgery on her face and neck, but her father was granted a job by the Pakistani government at a consulate there. The young girl has also received a multi-million dollar book deal for her much-talked about memoirs, “I Am Malala”. She has rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s most eminent dignitaries and has been awarded the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov Human Rights Prize.
Malala has graced many television shows, and even addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the World Bank in Washington, besides having tea with the queen at Buckingham Palace. A portrait of her, created by British painter Jonathan Yeo, was on display in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Having had the privilege to interact with the US President, she was applauded for her inspiring and passionate work for girls’ education in Pakistan by Barack Obama and the first lady.
The question that comes to one’s mind is, how and why did this one ordinary girl attract this kind of global attention and what the rationale behind this is?
The answer lies in one of the world’s biggest public relations firms, taking her under their wings. Edelman decided to encash on the publicity she received and saw fit to transform her into a “global brand”. Without the media attention which she received, few people in the world would probably know about Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani school girl who is working for the right to education for females. Her story spread around the world like wildfire and the kind of response she received was beyond anyone’s imagination, making her the public icon she is today.
Malala was the perfect story for the media, because of the public and political sentiments surrounding her. The news channels have done documentaries, talk-shows, live events, a book (“I Am Malala”), articles and radio programs on her. Media channels have made a lot of moolah by focusing attention on her and that has caused a widespread international interest.
Her story gained momentum because of the internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. PR and news globally, worked in tandem on international networks with the help of cheap and advanced technology.
The spotlight was not only on Malala but also on Human Rights and the work of the NGOs, which indirectly got attention and financial support to continue their work in the harshest environments. All this, was the work of one PR company that decided to build the brand “Malala”.