Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Catholic group Opus Dei uses PR effectively to counter bad image

Recently, high ranking members of the Catholic organization Opus Dei men convened in Rome in order to draft a campaign they call “Operation Lemonade.” The group has been targeted as the villain in the book The Da Vinci Code - and the new film based upon it opening today.

“Operation Lemonade” was said to have produced three goals: 1. Turn publicity into an opportunity to proselytize; 2. Ally itself with other Catholics; and 3. Maintain a non-aggressive tone.

In recent weeks, critics of the group says Opus Dei has tried to equate criticism of its organization with criticism of the Catholic Church. An example given is: “According to Brian Finnerty, U.S. Media Relations Director for the Catholic group Opus Dei, the novel [The Da Vinci Code] is a completely inaccurate portrayal of the Catholic Church.”

ABC’s "Good Morning America" got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Opus Dei's New York headquarters, and it’s Website includes bullet-pointed facts about the group.

A History Channel documentary on the group aired Tuesday night, and it was fairly balanced between official spokesmen an “anti-cult” group that is supporting former members, and a few former members themselves, along with some very contented current members. Overall, it was extremely positive towards the organization.

Opus Dei has vast resources and great influence in the Catholic Church. They have utilized the film release perfectly and have illustrated how to turn a negative image into at least a “neutral” one.