HK govt PRoblems

One of the most stunning remarks Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam made in her famous leaked comments was that the administration that follows hers would need serious PR advice. She genuinely believes that the main problem is ‘poor communication’ of the government’s policies. No possibility that the policies themselves are bad.

This goes back to the dawn of the Special Administrative Region. Tung Chee-hwa constantly fretted that the government must ‘communicate more’. (This suggests a sort of progress – at least officials today think the problem is the quality rather than the sheer quantity of the communication.)

Carrie lamented that PR companies had turned away her administration’s requests for help. An industry journal called the Holmes Report helpfully dug up some details. The Guardian then ran with it. The Hong Kong government has become the lePRous account that no agency will touch.

Bearing in mind that PR agencies will happily work for such wholesome and noble clients as the Saudi regime or opioid-peddling pharma giants, this is quite something.

It would be tempting to think that it is purely because of the impossibility of getting Hong Kong’s deluded bureaucrats out of their fantasy land and admit that they, not their audience, are the problem. The invitation to pitch for the account (on Holmes Report) suggests that Hong Kong officials were indeed obsessed with just re-screeching the same vacuous Asia’s World City slogans. But PR agencies like taking money from suckers a challenge.

The big problem is not simply that the Hong Kong government’s reputation is toxic. If Carrie’s people had just chopped a journalist to pieces in an embassy or hooked half of West Virginia on painkillers – fine, we can work on that.

The problem is that the Hong Kong government’s antagonists – the competition for audience sympathy – are so well-known and attractive internationally. The protesters, in all their photogenic glory, have won the soft power. There’s nothing to be gained from representing a client whose cops are laying into these smart, creative, defiant, doe-eyed kids. It would be like winning the account for the people who club baby seals to death. Don’t even bother.

Instead, the Hong Kong government must try do-it-yourself image enhancement. For example, recycling some newspaper ad material on Twitter. Where people can add whatever comments they like. This is not pretty.

Back to the soft power… What do watercolour painting and harp-playing have in common? They’re both much harder than they look. Here are the visuals, and here’s the music.

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9 Responses to HK govt PRoblems

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    The kissy-kissy image at the end of the post reminds me about how the ongoing “disturbances” now feature in my life. Notably, my partner and I have adopted quite a few riot-inspired elements in our sexual activities. I’ve purchased several bits of kit the goodies like to strut around in (I call it the Bob the Builder-Lara Croft combo). When I get really revved up, I’ll smash some windows with a metal pole, set fire to the waste bin in the bathroom, and start hurling half-end bricks with gay (1970’s usage) abandon. My ladyfriend “cop” will then warn we with stern words and an orange banner, before subduing me with aerosol spray, often WD40. Great fun.

  2. PaperCuts says:

    The Hk government, if they want to be open and honest, just need to come out with 4 words…a 4 word campaign of public diplomacy that doesn’t try to bullshit or tell lies…

    “You with Chiiiina now!”

  3. Mun Dane says:

    Reactor #4 is being dishonest, he doesn’t have a partner.

  4. @PaperCuts – I think the preposition you’re looking for is “under”, not “with”.

  5. Casira says:

    @Mun Dane: He didn’t mention the sex was free.

  6. Let It Burn says:

    Reactor 4 – ask your partner to hold an open flame in front of the WD40.

  7. Mun Dane says:

    @ Carsira, yes, well.

  8. In the Name of the Father says:

    Remember the “street artist” busted in Prince Edward Station a couple weeks ago who reportedly was wanted for suspicion of storming Legco? Wonder how many other people are on that list. Hate to be the one to say this, but sometime in the not-so-distant future a lot of the smart, creative, defiant, doe-eyed kids who thought they could put on a mask and safely join in the fun are going to be singing the blues like Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong when the cops show up and drag them off to see the magistrate.

  9. PaperCuts says:

    @ Private Beach

    Same same but different

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