APCO ‘internal turmoil’ before taking on the Malaysia job?

Interesting remarks on APCO’s appointment in Malaysia to make Najib and pals look good by Ben Bland in the Hartal MSM blog. Hartal says Bland is a freelance journalist based in Singapore, reporting for publications such as The Daily Telegraph, The Economist, the FT weekend magazine, Monocle, Asia Sentinel and the British Medical Journal. He was a stock market reporter at The Daily Telegraph and Dow Jones Newswires in London, before leaving the City to Southeast Asia.)

You have to wonder what sort of internal debate went on in APCO before they decided to take on the job. Here’s Unspun‘s totally fictitious and facetious account of what might have been:

APCO Dove: I don’t think we should take the job as there’s nothing we can do to change them, and if we can’t change them then there’s no way to make them look good.

APCO Hawk: Of course we should take it. The money is good and it will give a big boost to our reputation in that part of the world where we haven’t been able to make as much headway as in the US.It may even make people forget that we’re closing down…I mean scaling down…in Indonesia.

Dove: Yes, but what sort of a reputation will we have if we take this job? Najib and his goons are just in plain denial. No amount of spin we put into this will be effective unless we convince them to change their ways.

Hawk: It doesn’t matter. Think of the money we’ll get. And the opportunities it will create for us. We’ll be plugged in to all the important people in Malaysia from No.1 down. And by the time they realize that the PR is ineffective, we’ll have made our money anyway.

Dove: I’m still uneasy about all this. I’m worried our own reputation would suffer if we take them on….

Hawk: Dove, Dove have courage son. We’re like lawyers who take the view that even the worst criminal deserves a good defense. We’re here merely to tell their story in a good light.

Dove: But there is nothing to tell. There are not good stories to tell because Najib and his boys are morally and intellectually bankrupt…

Hawk: You are too pessimistic. At the end of the day the fees will go toward our bonuses and nobody will remember our sins. Look at Burson Marsteller for instance, until that bitch Rachel Maddow tagged them with the “When Evil needs public relations, Evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed-dial” soundbite everyone had already forgotten all the hopeless causes they championed…and got away with. people never learn from history. That’s our saving grace.

clipped from hartalmsm.wordpress.com
The Malaysian government has appointed APCO, a global PR firm, to advise it on how to engage with the public and the media.

When I covered the stock market in London, the appointment of a new PR firm by a troubled company was usually the equivalent of the band on the Titanic striking up a new cheerful tune: they may be hoping to lighten the mood but ultimately the ship’s still going down.

Amusingly, the men and women in suits who are being shipped out to Kuala Lumpur reckon they can help strengthen “the government’s online and other strategic communication capabilities” by deploying “seasoned professionals…who are on the cutting edge of new media”.

Do these spin doctors know anything about Malaysian politics? The government and the ruling party have been completely outflanked by the rise of the internet in Malaysia, as shown by this week’s humiliating climbdown over the planned new firewall.

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5 thoughts on “APCO ‘internal turmoil’ before taking on the Malaysia job?

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  1. Hi there – I’d just like to point out that I did not write that blog post for Hartal MSM.

    They took the blog post in full from my own blog – theasiafile.blogspot.com – without properly attributing it.

    I have contacted them to resolve this issue.


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