Communication exercise no. 2: RMGC and SRM

The events that have recently happened have encouraged the people and the organizations that support “Let’s Save Rosia Montana” (SRM) to take to the streets and assert their beliefs by trying to unite as many Romanian citizens as possible in favour of banning cyanide mining. The number of people on the street was not that high but the internet and social media were flooded with articles, photos, disclosures, criticism and pro-SRM actions. The messages are very diverse which shows that there is no central coordination effort, as RMGC does. The protesters’ messages cover an entire range of topics. Basically, they use all the forms of attack they can: allegations of corruption, they publish examples of mines that have not been exploited due to civil society protests, they make jokes, they protest against the censorship of major television channels including public television, they disclose information about various people that are involved in the project, they make an economic analysis of the area, they urge the inhabitants from the area to take their fate in their own hands. These are a mixture of very concrete messages that try to destroy (each one of them) the project’s credibility and the people involved in it.

From the communication point of view, SRV approaches the problem correctly, considering that the anti-RMGC movement is in fact made up of small groups of people who work almost independently. The coordination and dispersion of messages are realised in a simple way – with the power of the internet and various social networks. What they are doing at the moment is covering all the issues that compete with the “Let’s Save Rosia Montana” message.

Regarding RMGC, its communication on TV was non-existent (which was a good move in fact) during the street demonstrations that gathered thousands of people in Bucharest and in all the major cities of Romania. When they calmed down, RMGC resumed broadcasting TV spots on the main television channels. This is a moment that also coincides with the first televised appearance of the president (since the demonstrations have started) in which he explicitly supported the resumption of mining activities, explaining that the price of metals is on a favourable trend. RMGC’s communication efforts remained in the same emotional realm as we have already talked about. The whole situation reached its breaking point, last night, when RMGC decided to change their message with the help of a popular live TV show, hosted by an important news channel. The new message promoted by RMGC is related to heritage (in its broader sense, not strictly archaeological and cultural) trying to explain, even by the title of the show, that at this time the project is not managed by anyone. They are trying to imply that RMGC will manage it from at least two points of view: the resulting gains for everyone and the care for the archaeological and cultural heritage.

The multiplication and radicalization of pro-SRM actions seem to have led to this change of message operated through the “Nobody’s Heritage” show. The show seems to have been mismanaged because it was perceived as another attempt to manipulate public opinion due to the massive presence of RMGC people and supporters and the increasingly radical messages they uttered. As an immediate result, professionals from various fields (including specialists in archaeology, environment, culture or education) who have so far had a moderate “voice”, have become more vocal again – this way encouraging anti-RMGC organizations and people.

It should be noted that people who are not necessarily pro-RMGC have started to write against it. An example in this regard is Cristian Tudor Popescu and his recent editorial in which he explains that they are “tired” of the media invasion operated by the mining company. It is an effect of the overly emotional communication that I have mentioned earlier (in the first article about the communication of the two parties). This effect has two main causes: RMGC’s emotional messages and their massive volume that led to a saturation effect. The saturation has two main coordinates: first, the fact that more and more people will say that the inhabitants of Rosia Montana need to make their own future and that they need to stop complaining about poverty and lack of jobs. The second one, the fact that it is impossible for a wide media communication like this one (which is also supported by a lot of money ) not to hide major interests from which the state will lose, given the secrecy of the contract and calculations made on the basis of public figures at this time.

The outcome of these events and the messages that accompany them are divided into two main categories:
– For RMGC it is increasingly difficult to find messages that are not instantly attacked by its opponents. Given the fact that their voice is not heard in the media (except through the various social media networks, which are otherwise used to their maximum) they are using any possible communication weapon
– For SRM, the recent TV show and its message represented a new hit against the RMGC project. The perception of “media censorship” is also an additional factor that will mobilize people.