APCO clinches job to make Najib et al look good


Interesting news about APCO winning the PA/PR contract with the Malaysian Government (see extract below).

The question, raised here between Unspun and Kay Peng (who still hasn’t released my comment in his blog), is whether anything can be done to improve the image of Najib and the Malaysian government, regardless of how good, experienced or high powered the consultants are.

President Jimmy Carter’s spokesperson Jodie Foster once remarked that “sometimes you have a PR problem, other times you just have a problem.” Observers of the Malaysian political scene would no doubt argue that Najib and Co have a problem (of political, personal credibility, living in denial  and calibre of people dimensions) that in turn triggers as PR problem.

Reading the article below, one of APCO’s main tasks will be to neutralize Najib’s critics in the blogs. They would not be so stupid as to try to silence the bloggers, or to push pabulum and good news to an angry and skeptical audience  so Unspun’s guess is that they will go on the assault by engaging the bloggers. It will probably be an aggressive engagement as they deploy bloggers sympathetic to Najib and the government to out argue the critics. Will sock puppets be used? Will there be astroturfing? Who knows, but the Malaysian interactive space is worth watching over the next few months.

Can APCO help guide Najib and Co to solve their problem so that they can solve their image problem? It remains to be seen but Unspun wouldn’t hold his breath. This is no reflection on APCO (except perhaps their choice to take the business if they are not convinced they can make a real difference) but more on Najib et al. Malaysians might want to press their government to let them know what the deliverables and KPIs are for APCO if their tax money is being spent.

APCO secures key Malaysian contract

Global PA operator APCO is to expand its business in Malaysia after securing a key contract from the country’s government.

The move comes as APCO restructures its South East Asia operation – with London PA expert Paul Stadlen heading to Malaysia to become managing director of the new office amid changes to its operations in the region.

The firm is to broaden its activities in Malaysia with the creation of an office in Kuala Lumpur – which will service the government of Malaysia and prime minister Najib Razak.

Larry Snoddon, APCO’s Asia CEO, said winning a major piece of government work underlined the changing dynamic in the public affairs arena.

“Governments today are facing similar challenges to global business that require dealing simultaneously with public policy, public opinion and finance,” he told PublicAffairsAsia.

“This environment requires diversified skills and a deep knowledge of world affairs. This has been the historic basis for APCO’s creation and its mission.”

The contract was awarded after what industry insiders say was quick fire pitch – with APCO beating off competitors including Burson-Marsteller to secure the PR and comms role with the Malaysian government.

Stadlen said Malaysia was now poised to become a global leader in key economic areas.

“This is a time of opportunities for Malaysia,” said Stadlen. “APCO is delighted to share media expertise and strategic communication services with the Malaysian government and other clients in Malaysia. We are excited about Malaysia’s future and our ability to participate in it.”

Read more here

7 Comments Add yours

  1. WTF says:

    From APCO website
    ‘…Jewish community networking:
    APCO’s Tel Aviv office helps clients navigate the Jewish world. Our staff has extensive experience and close ties to major Jewish and Israeli organizations with a global presence. We offer a comprehensive understanding of Jewish public affairs and help clients make the right contacts and convey their messages creatively and efficiently to Jewish audiences and communities worldwide.’

    I take my hat off Nazi-b. On one hand accusing Anwar of associating with the Jews and now Malaysia’s very own one and many UMNO racist, the Nazi-b , using Malaysian hard earn money to employ & engage the organisation who had ‘understand of Jews’ to help PR for the Muslim Malay… ??? He must have great respect for the Jews idea to spend that money to introduce here with thre racis 1Malaysia propaganda similar to Hitler Nazi propaganda…

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  2. Posted on Malaysian Insider:

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — The government paid US$24.2 million (RM76.8 million) to APCO Worldwide, the international public relations consultancy linked by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders to Israel, for its services from last July until June this year.

    The amount was revealed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, in a written reply to a question in Parliament from PKR MP, Chua Tian Chang.

    I never knew the PR industry was that lucrative. Pretty soon Unspun will be jetting around in his private plane!

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  3. unspun says:

    @opah: Oh yes, PR an be really lucrative and rewarding if the conditions are right, although it will be a few decades before Unspun even changes his old car for a new one.

    The cost of doing a business such as Najib’s is, of course, another matter. The cost is to the consultant’s reputation.

    At lest in this instance APCO is making enough money to compensate for the pain they must feel in trying to get Najib et al PR savvy and to be on message =- a process worse than herding cats, I’m told.

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  4. Opah says:

    As a wise man once said: “Sometimes you have a PR problem, sometimes you just have a problem”.
    Looks like taking care of Najib’s “problems” is much, much more lucrative than PR per se.

    APCO’s contract is actually through a RM2 company called APCO Worldwide Sdn Bhd, which is owned by two Malaysian trustees. Who knows how much was siphoned out to cronies and how much actually ended up with APCO.

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  5. It’s easy to criticise but without all the data, what is the point?

    Before determining if it is a waste of money, we need to understand the scope of work, the requirements, deliverables, metrics for measurement, transfer of technology, ROI and more. Once we know all of that we can determine if the money was wasted or not.

    Just focussing on the amount and thinking, ‘wow that’s a big number, I could do it cheaper’ is a naieve and parochial attitude that suggests everything is a cost and not an investment.

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  6. unspun says:

    @marcus: Couldn’t agree more. Hence my latest posting on APCO https://theunspunblog.com/2010/04/13/did-apco-deliver-the-goods-to-najib-et-al-heres-how-to-find-out/

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