Interesting, a PR practitioner has taken what I have said about PR consultants rather seriously. I have said that perhaps it is better for the government to spend the money, RM20 million, on some poverty eradication programmes. A government should not just talk. It is best for the government to focus on deliverables and not some slogans or giving out insignificant 'goodies'.
In this context, I refer to the statements and announcements made by the Prime Minister recently. Amazing, I wonder which PR company actually helped to draft these announcements. I would have appreciated a real maverick PM who is daring enough to alter the status quo. But no, the PM had instead made some announcements, on 6 KRAs, which could have been done by his officers.
For example, do you need a PM to tell the nation that he aims to increase the number of LRT coaches at the Kelana Jaya LRT station? Such statement can be made by the LRT company CEO.
What about combating crime? Shouldn't the IGP come out personally to assure us that his force aims to reduce crime by 20%?
It will make the PM sound ridiculous if more insignificant statements are made, and drafted for him by his very expensive PR consultants. Laughable!
My statement urging the government to save up the RM20 million must have hurt some PR companies. As one PR consultant pointed out, if a PR firm can deliver real value to their political client there is nothing to be upset with my statement.
There are many more examples but I would rather not disclose them here since some of the leaders I know are willing to spend their own money on PR consultants. My blog post did not equate spin doctors to PR consultants. Spin doctors normally work in the media organisations as high profile editors and writers.
This PR consultant, Ong Hock Chuan, committed the very fault he accused me of doing, spinning:
"Kay Peng’s take is that since PR practitioners, whom he equates to spin doctors, mainly serve corporations, they are unqualified to help politicians brush up their image since “political PR and corporate PR” are very different practices."
Ong should point out to me and my readers which sentence in my blog equates spin doctors to pr practitioners. After his reply, I might actually change my mind on some pr consultants.
On another point, I stand corrected if Ong can prove to me that the approach to political PR is similar to corporate PR. If some of these pr consultants truly understand politics, the PM would not have been criticized for his insignificant announcements which only seek to expose his lack of ability to focus on key issues and problems facing this nation.
I totally agree with Ong on this, "the best PR practitioners abhor spinning, precisely because it doesn’t work." BN leaders should thank Ong for his generosity in giving out this free advice. They should take this opportunity to review the performance of their pr consultants to find out if those they have hired are indeed the best.
Perhaps Ong is barking up the wrong tree. He ended his post with a list of things on what a pr consultant would have done for the BN. He wrote:
"In the BN’s case, a good PR consultant will point out that all the reports they have heard about the BN being corrupt, morally as well as financially; arrogant; and irresponsive to people’s needs as well as a litany of wrong are all true – at least in the perceptions of many Malaysians and others abroad. They will also tell the BN that unless they fix these problems, communication is futile. The PR Practitioner will explain to the BN that there is nothing you can say to alter people’s perceptions if you continue to behave like a haram quadruped."
Ong's good advice merely confirms my fear that the government may have hired the wrong pr consultants. The attitude of the administration and the way it reacts to problems, issues, controversies and critics did not suggest to me that their pr consultants had performed their duty to inform the government that words are worthless.
Perhaps Ong can help to explain why the government and the mass media are still promoting the 1Malaysia slogan like a magic mantra which can wish all our woes away?
Where is the IPCMC? Where is the RCI on Teoh Beng Hock's death? What is the outcome of the two RCIs? Why is there still a strong display of arrogance and racism in the administration official lines? Why must UMNO insist so strongly on the Malay unity talk when it runs contrary to the 1Malaysia tagline it is promoting?
Ong's closing sentence is unnecessary: "Kay Peng would do well to deepen his understanding of what PR practitioners really do rather than just maligning the profession."
There are bad and good pr practitioners. The good ones should understand what I was trying to emphasize and whom I was referring to. I did not malign the profession. True professionals can stand up to face any scrutiny.
Instead, Ong should spend his valuable time helping the government to hire the right pr consultants and not trying to belittle my understanding of pr consulting. As a citizen, I would be grateful if the government can spend my tax money wisely.