Trade publication PRovoke Media has the latest on the Hong Kong government’s desperate attempts to improve its (or, officials would say, the city’s) international image.
Saudi-advising mayhem-management agency Consulum has (presumably) splashed some money around and attracted three communications professionals to join its Hong Kong Mission Impossible team.
One, PRovoke says, has been boss of ‘strategy and communications’ for the English Schools Foundation. That’s a legacy schools system founded for expat colonial officials’ kids, now in constant controversy as it tries to balance an overpaid staff, a drop in public funding and the demands of whiny parents. He was also media advisor for a police force in Scotland.
Another is an ex-SCMP staffer who, interestingly, also did PR for the fuzz – in New South Wales. One person with experience working for the cops is a coincidence; two looks like a theme.
The third ran communications and government relations for AmCham – a function that suggests pretty serious shoe-shining of officials – and once worked for the Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit, which in post-colonial times drifted from research towards propaganda. Sounds a bit ‘gamekeeper-turned-poacher’.
I don’t know much more about the individuals* – except that we are all prostitutes really, are we not? (Why do I picture the three as seeing this as a last lucrative gig before fleeing Hong Kong?)
But it looks like an adequate team-assembled-in-a-hurry by an agency grabbing some easy money and to hell with what more fastidious quarters of the PR industry think.
Other agencies avoided pitching for this job because they feared for their image. Communications advisors like to see their role as potentially heroic, speaking truth to power and convincing problematic clients to mend their ways rather than sweep dirt under the carpet.
That isn’t possible with this account, as the client is a collection of cowed bureaucrats (also no doubt desperate to flee the city) who must feed their own bosses in Beijing a load of phony hogwash. There is no point in telling Carrie and Co how they can restore their credibility when the only audience that matters to them is the CCP, which demands their total obedience and insists its Leninist thuggishness is inerrant and perfect. (And don’t even think about telling the Hong Kong Police how to redeem themselves, unless you want a face full of pepper spray.)
Someone once said you can’t sell shit as sugar. Where the CCP is concerned, if you even dare suggest the ‘sugar’ might be shit, you get the Cai Xia excommunication treatment.
*Though one has the same name as the guy who wrote the unique ‘Dystopia’ column at the Asia Times back in the late Ming Dynasty.
Just by quick glance, it looks more like CONsulum will be trying to influence locals into thinking all is back to normal rather than convincing an international audience that Hong Kong isn’t officially FUBAR.
Wonder how “Asia’s World City” will figure in?
I am not sure if employing a PR company is the optimum way to persuade outsiders that HK is still Asia’s World City. I find the best way to get people to like you is to go Route 1 and give them shit. Money, sex, shiny things, bits of buildings etc. It always works, it involves little thinking, and it is easy to explain to everyone.
“To use one police flack, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to use two looks like carelessness.”
They have some top notch clients and workers, do Consulum.
Fitzpatrick’s father was a colonial cop of Irish stock. What I vaguely remember of Eamonn is that he would prop up every bar counter in Lan Kwai Fong circa 25 years ago.
Ahhh, the Fitzpatrick clan has re-emerged to haunt HK. Wonder if they’ll reform their band.
Consulum’s website https://www.consulum.com/ lists offices in Bahrain (tinpot), Dubai (tinpot tough less rough at the edges), Hong Kong (Asia’s Parochial Has-been), London (meaningless), Monaco (tinpot) and Riyadh (evil). It notably, even by the standards of PR agencies, lacks anything on governance or ethics.
HKG’s problem is not communications. We understand its policies and strategies very clearly. The problem is that we don’t like them.
Scary and very-well researched article, albeit long, in HKFP today, “How Hong Kong Was Lost.” I think its author may earn the distinction of being the first to have a warrant issued under the Nat Sec laws without having set foot in the territory.
Rob Shorthouse – a man unencumbered by morals or scruples. Ideal for the government and LAMB Curry’s campaign.
I thought Ube (Eamnonn was the drummer) was a pretty good band when they played back in the 90s. Not quite as good as Nogabe, but still OK. But, we’ve all gone through changes in the last few decades.
Heckuva good read and a wake up call for the West (Tatlow’s HKFP article), though I think it’s happening already. If they (immigrant lackeys for UF organizations, etc) REALLY want to love the CCP so much in their adopted new homes, they should be treated in the West as the CCP would treat a foreign entity in China. Curious to see what kind of shenanigans they’re up to in Africa.
Can’t stand the current White House administration BUT glad Pompeo is getting around to force the obvious: get these spy/propaganda/burrow-under-skin organizations to register as foreign agents.
@Chinese Netizen – as a life-long leftie, it alarms me that I find myself agreeing with Pompeo on China. But we just need to remember that China is not the only overweening imperialist superpower in the world.
Have no fear.
Your anti-American bona fides are duly noted and your globalist creds are intact.
Invitations to Midlevels dinner parties will continue to flow your way.
@Stanley Lieberr – I don’t think I’ve attended a Midlevels dinner party in the last 20 years. In fact I don’t seem to have been invited to any dinner party for months – it’s almost as if there’s some deadly virus going around preventing people from getting together…
I give Eamonn 6 months.