Koala diplomacy (and positive PR)

The G20 political summit today wraps up in Brisbane, Australia, and more than the official ‘family photo’ or the awkward meet-and-greet handshakes, a photo opportunity for leaders to ‘cuddle a koala’ has been the source of images appearing in media around the world.

The G20 koalas are really PR photo-opp genius by the Australian organisers.

Having photos of world leaders smiling, and looking warm and human, is a win for them in appealing to their respective citizens, and getting a positive photo in local media. For the leaders to be doing this holding a koala — something that most (if not all) tourists know and love about Australia — and a boon for Australian tourism.

Everyone is a winner*. A reminder that sometimes simple photo opportunities are the best.

Australian Prime Minister Abbott and U.S. President Obama ( Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

Australian Prime Minister Abbott and U.S. President Obama (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye meets Jimbelung the koala. (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via SMH)

Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye meets Jimbelung the koala. (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via SMH)

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff meet Jimbelung the koala. (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via SMH)

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff meet Jimbelung the koala. (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via SMH)

Canadian President Harper (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

Canadian President Harper (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi (Via @luigi_dm Twitter)

Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi (Via @luigi_dm Twitter)

New Zealand Prime Minister Key (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

New Zealand Prime Minister Key (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia)

Now I’m not a full-time watcher of Russia’s President Putin but has anyone seen more genuine smile from him than the one he had when holding a koala at the G20? This after the reported snubbing from other leaders, and comments from the Australian prime minister that he would be ‘shirtfronted‘ during the summit, is especially

President Putin (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via Getty)

President Putin (Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via Getty)

But like all diplomacy, it is important for local media to be largely on the team when it comes to photo opportunities, at least in terms of getting the names of world leaders right. For example, Angela Merkel is a Chancellor, and Christine Lagarde is not the PM of India but the MD of the IMF.

"Oh dear.. This G20 Sunday Tele pic really isn't Indian PM Narendra Modi.. " (Via @KJBar Twitter)

“Oh dear.. This G20 Sunday Tele pic really isn’t Indian PM Narendra Modi.. ” (Via @KJBar Twitter)

 

*Except maybe the koalas for who it is a long day in the office.

 

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