Wonders never cease: This advertisement was in The Jakarta Post this morning. Another indication of the deep lack of understanding of the PR industry here is that most of the larger and more progressive PR firms here do not take affiliation to APRI/IPRA/PERHUMAS/PRSI seriously, so the insistence on affiliation smells of bureaucracy at work.
But can you imagine how the pitch will go? Unspun’s take on the probable scenario below:
MTB: We want you to make us look good lah. Especially our (genuflects) Minister Tengku Adnan. He’s the only one brave enough to speak out against bloggers, especially them lying women bloggers who have nothing to do because they are unemployed.
PR firm: Well, Sir, er it’s a difficult. Sometimes you have a PR problem, other times you just have a PR problem.
MTB: (getting flustered) I don’t care-lah. You PR people supposed to come up with solutions, not problems. What is the problem?
PR firm: It may be a bit sensitive but your Minister IS the problem. It’s not very good PR to go about calling bloggers – whom we think is a vital channel for your communications – liars. It’s also bad PR to whack women.
MTB: Never mind-lah. This one all conspiracy against Malaysia and (genuflects) Tengku Adnan. You PR people can put a positive spin to it what.
PR firm: Not really Sir, Good PR is not about spinning. It’s about advising our clients to have the right attitude and frame of mind so that when they communicate – through their actions and words – they come across credibly.
MTB: Hmmm. Never mind, Indonesians do not know what’s happening in Malaysia, so they would not know about (genuflects) Tengku Adnan. What we need you to do is to tell them about how good Malaysia is so that they call go there.
PR firm: I think the Indonesians already know about Tengku and his problems that started because the MTB organized her trip very badly and she blogged about it and lots of other bloggers posted about it. Anyway what do you think we can tell about Malaysia that can get Indonesians going there?
MTB: Well, we have Langkawi, but don’t compare it with Bali or it may not sound so attractive. We also have this great homestay program where Indonesians can come here and watch what life is there in the kampungs – it would be like a homecoming for them. Our kamungs are a bit cleaner but otherwise it’s all the same. Then we have padi fields, lots of them, again it’s like back home for you Indons so you’ll love it. Then we have our culture – we have wayang kulit, batik – new modern stuff and none of that nonsense from Solo or other places. We also have Minangkabau dances, much like the ones you have in Padang…
PR firm: Hmmm…I know! We can invite some Indonesian journalists to Malaysia and then they can write about how great the country is.
MTB: That’s a good idea but we can’t be half-arsed to organize such trips properly You mean we have to cater to the journalists needs and help them get permits and all sorts of permission for shooting if we get TV crews there.
PR firm: Well, you want lots of coverage so that people will want to go there…
MTB: But, but…that calls for organization and hard work, when will we get our time to drink our teh tarik if we do this?
PR firm: I know we can also invite bloggers. These days peer recommendation is the way to go. Most people would trust blogger’s recommendations and look them up before visiting a place, or be inspired by positive reviews on blogs…
PR firm: Why not
MTB: Because all those bloggers are lying bastards. Especially the women, they are the worst. They have nothing to do all day but stay in the kitchen or gossip with their friends while making lemang and rendang. Then they blog their lies, trying to smear the good name of our beloved and much admired (genuflects) Tengku.
PR firm: Uhm, Ok, maybe we should just take out ads aja. It’s more expensive but publicity is guaranteed (proceeds to faint).
Seriously though, the MTB’s image, which reflects on Malaysia, is now so bad to anyone who can read a newspaper or a blog that there is nothing a PR firm can do to help them, unless there is a genuine wish on their part to stop living in denial, confront their problems and do something about it before communicating.
As it isThe MTB spends millions of ringgit of malaysian taxpayers money. It brings in some tourists but not as many as it can if it has good PR. Good PR is about communicating credibly. Malaysia and the MTB has a PR problem but it can’t be fixed unless it addresses the real problem – incompetents without people and communications skills among other deficiencies put in high positions of responsibility. Sort that out and Unspun will even do the PR for Malaysia and the MTB free of charge.