By Paulina Trzcinska
The entire world has been watching what is going on in Ukraine with bated breath. The number of mothers fleeing with their children, as well as international students and professionals who have lived in the country for years, is growing by the day. Today, everyone is looking for creative ways to assist and support the Ukrainian refugees.
The simplest way is, of course, to donate money to international organizations and communities that provide assistance directly in Ukraine or on its borders to those in greatest need (you can find a list of verified organizations at the end of this blog). However, the global PR community is capable of far more. Here are a few ways that you can use your creativity and skills to help the cause:
- Monitor and respond to fake news
Recent weeks have demonstrated that the war is also taking place in the virtual world. Leading Polish companies in the construction, real estate, and energy sectors have reported a massive cyberattack of 700,000 emails on their networks (compared to roughly 10- 20,000 prewar). Furthermore, popular news services such as Capital24.tv report over 1.5 million fake news stories every day, increasing disinformation and fear among the international community. False information ranged from false attacks on border cities in Poland (which have so far welcomed over 2 million Ukrainian refugees), to the suspension of Russian gas and energy supplies to Europe, to the collapse of the EU and NATO alliances.
How can this be avoided? As public relations professionals, we must always verify the news we read or hear and avoid sharing anything that comes from unverified sources. Sometimes all it takes is a quick Google search to figure out if the news is fake. Always start with the URL – if it looks suspicious, use Intensys or WHOIS database to find out who owns the domain, when it was purchased, and so on. Even if the site appears to be legitimate, but the news appears to be fictitious, you can verify it with FakeNews.AI. Avoid sharing news from anonymous sources or generic social accounts. If you are certain that it is fake news, you can always report the site/author using the appropriate functions on social media or websites. It is also recommended to read and share reliable source news from the front lines, such as the Kyiv Independent.
- Educate the international community
One method of combating propaganda is to debunk fake news; another is to educate those who are cut off from unbiased information. The well-known hacktivist group Anonymous launched a global campaign encouraging people to leave fake Google reviews in popular public places, in order to inform Russians about what is really going on in Ukraine. Thousands of restaurants, hotels, and public places in Russia have received 5-star ratings with the note, “The food/hotel was great! Unfortunately, Putin spoiled our appetites/stay by invading Ukraine. Stand up to your dictator, stop killing innocent people! Your government is lying to you. Get up!”.
Another way to educate the online community is to take action whenever you see someone writing ambiguously about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Words like ‘military operation’ and ‘international dispute’ have been widely used to disguise the fact that it is a regular war, with thousands of soldiers dying on all sides and millions fleeing for their lives.
- Advocate for anti-war sanctions
The one bright spot in the current situation is the unprecedented unification of Western governments, corporations, and everyday brands in sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The list of companies that have severed all business ties with the aggressor is growing by the day and already includes household names from the film, fashion, technology, and automotive industries. Many private businesses are following suit and making very generous donations as a result of their employees’ encouragement.
Check to see which businesses in your area have joined the cause and align with your views. Don’t forget that as public relations professionals and concerned citizens, we can put pressure on local MPs and governments to send Ukraine more financial aid and impose even harsher sanctions.
- Donate to Verified Organizations
Here are some charities that are trying to bring aid to the people in Ukraine.
- Fundacja Ocalenie, or Ocalenie Foundation helps refugees, migrants and repatriates to build a new life in Poland. They are helping refugees from Ukraine find housing, fill out documents, offer therapy, teach Polish, and provide legal assistance.
- ul. Krucza 6/14a, 00-537 Warszawa
- IBAN: PL 11 1750 0009 0000 0000 2156 6004
- Address: BNP Paribas Bank Polska S.A., ul. Kasprzaka 2, 01-211 Warszawa
- Kod BIC/SWIFT: PPABPLPKXXX
- Transfer title: donation for Ukraine
- Polish Medical Mission Polish Medical Mission connects the helpers and the needy. They believe in a world where medical aid reaches every patient. And are supporting health needs at the border for all Ukrainian refugees.
- Account in USD, IBAN:PL53 1240 4650 1787 0010 7345 2383 (You can also directly donate from their website.)
- Transfer title: donation for Ukraine
- World Central Kitchen For many refugees, food is an immediate need. Chef Jose Andrés has set up his World Central Kitchen on the ground at the Ukraine-Poland border providing warm meals for the hungry.
Paulina Trzcińska is a Polish native but lived for many years abroad in London, Frankfurt, New York City, and Miami. She holds over 12 years of work experience in PR and marketing, including the role of an editor of PACKAGING POLSKA magazine, and senior account manager in an international PR agency. WIth strong content development and media relations skills, she also handles translations in three European languages, organizes media training, and supports trade shows.