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