Why Bjorka should worry the Government

The danger of hacker Bjorka to the Government lies not in the information he purportedly hacked and leaked. The danger comes from the reaction of Indonesian netizens to any news or posts about Bjorka’s antics.


Check out Twitter and other social media news feeds and typical reactions are support for Bjorka and criticism of the government. Bjorka is, to many, becoming a folk hero like Robin Hood or V in V for Vendetta.

Rightly or not, the netizens’ reactions suggest Bjorka is being seen as someone flipping the bird to a government that is engaged in Double Speak, authoritarianism and Thought Control. The stuff that folk heroes battle against.

The perception of their reactions may be skewed. Netizens are known for their groundswell of rage against any authoritative figure. They may represent only the modern day chattering classes and no one else.

This is not to say, however, that they do not have a legitimate reason to rage against the Government, a sentiment that is ironically fed by the Government’s reaction to Bjorka.

So far the Government has fumbled and sent mixed messages about Bjorka. The dismissed him as inconsequential and that he has not really hacked anything important. Yet they rail against him and seen fit to set up a high level data security task force to curb activities of Bjorka and other hackers.

The Government also fed the netizen’s sense of contempt for authority from mishandling its reaction to data security leaks. Information Minister Johnny Plate’s response about needing to keep OTPs secure only exposes what many perceive to be a normalization of stupidity and incompetence in the highest levels of office.

The fact that he has not been held accountable for this and many other gross mistakes and misstatements in the past is increasingly being seen as a normalization of impunity.

This is because these days almost no one in high office is being held accountable for anything, either through their own actions or for something under their watch.

Hence you have Ferdy Sambo running a mafia within the highest echelons of police and no one high is being held accountable. In other countries the Minister for Law and the Head of Police would have to resign for letting something like this happen under their watch.

The normalization takes place because their is no longer any effective political opposition. The media, already reeling from the onslaught from social media, is cowed and does not ask questions. Foreign journalists, those pesky foreigners who ask pointed questions, are not being issued permits to work here.

Just about the only avenue for proper dissent these days is on the internet. But even here, Big Brother is at work. The word “Buzzers RP” is used with fear and loathing by netizens because they are seen as the Brown Shirts of the elite to muzzle any criticism.

When all avenues for healthy criticism and dissent seem blocked and controlled, people like Bjorka become admirable.

In all the stories of folk heroes fighting against authority the pattern is always the same. Tyranny and control up to a point where everyone is fed up. They do not know what to do. Then someone emerges who can tweak the nose of the authorities.

The people love him, the authorities overreact and attract more hatred. They start making mistakes and drive more people to support the Bjorka figures.

Then an idea of resistance is sown and from there it grows and grows.

Will this happen in Indonesia? Unlikely, but never say never….

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

Foxy Obama-style New media campaign for SBY

What’s with the name Fox and politicians? When Malaysian politicians wanted some help with their communications they turned to a company called Fox Communications (that was set up by some ex-journalists under the patronage of other ex-journalists).

Now, with the Indonesian Presidential elections around the corner, SBY has turned to Fox Indonesia. The mission of this Fox is to wage an Obama style campaign on the Net for SBY.

Like the Malaysian Fox, thie Indonesian variety is also closely related to politicians. Fox is run by Choel Mallarangeng, brother of Andi, the presidential spokesman.

Let’ hope the Indonesian Fox would outlast the Malaysian one since, Unspun hears, the latter hasn’t been doing quite well since its patron got booted of the power elite after Badawi stepped down as Malaysian premier.

clipped from mavericknetwork.biz

Mantan Redaktur Vivanews Perkuat Fox Indonesia

May 7, 2009 – This post is filed under Comings & Goings in the Media, Indonesian, Journalists, Social Media
Oleh: Hanny

nenden_novianti1Per 1 Mei 2009 ini, Nenden Novianti, redaktur junior untuk kanal dunia (international issues) di Vivanews, hijrah untuk bergabung dengan tim kampanye digital Partai Demokrat dan SBY di  Fox IndonesiaBaru-baru ini, konsultan komunikasi politik tersebut meluncurkan situs SBYPresidenku.com—yang dinilai sangat mirip dengan situs kampanye Obama.

“Memang situs tersebut terinspirasi dari situs kampanye digital Obama,” kata Nenden. “Saya sendiri memang tidak terlibat dari segi desainnya; karena baru bergabung ketika situs tersebut sudah jadi. Saya baru bergabung ketika sudah mulai pembuatan konten.”

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Physician heal thyself

All very well and good to extol the virtues of going online but Unspun seems to recall an episode when another speaker from a similar organization was trotting out exactly the same message at WordCamp recently, only to be asked if they practisced this wondrous solutions for themselves.

Since you say that going online is so good for business, Unspun remembers uberblogger Ndoro Kakung asking, do you use any blogs or any of the new media to communicate with your stakeholders? The answer was not yet.

Street creds man, street creds is what the Net is all about.

Media “online” Jadi Sumber Terpecaya Pebisnis Indonesia

Selasa, 10 Februari 2009 | 14:52 WIB

JAKARTA, SELASA — Media online ternyata menempati posisi tertinggi sebagai sumber informasi terpercaya para pebisnis di Indonesia, mengalahkan media massa lain.

Hal tersebut disampaikan Direktur Edelman Trustbarometer Aditya Chandra Wardhana dalam konferensi pers terkait hasil survei perusahaan tersebut atas tingkat kepercayaan masyarakat terhadap satu instansi, Selasa (10/2) di Jakarta.

Dari hasil survei 200 orang elite informasi, ia mengatakan, ada tiga sumber informasi paling dipercaya menurut kalangan elite informasi Indonesia, yakni isi berita online, berita televisi, dan komunikasi langsung dari manajemen perusahaan.

Tingkat kepercayaan para elite informasi yang berpendidikan sarjana untuk konten online mencapai 41 persen, televisi (40 persen), dan komunikasi langsung pada manajemen perusahaan (36 persen).

Sementara untuk tingkat kepercayaan di tingkat media konvensional, artikel di majalah bisnis berada di peringkat kedua mencapai 35 persen, diikuti radio (29 persen), dan terakhir surat kabar (27 persen).

via Kompas.Com – Media.online.jadi.sumber.terpercaya.pebisnis.indonesia.

One step forward for Post, one step back for Globe?

Happy New Year everyone as we knuckle down to brace our or embrace 2009. Therse are interesting times indeed. Unspun was out vacationing in Vietnam and Malaysia and came back to Jakarta last week to recuperate and to save up for the next vacation.

While Unspun was away, however, there’s been a couple of interesting developments in the English-language Press that needs to be taken notice of or unspunned, whichever is your preference.

The first is the Jakarta Post‘s signal that change is in the air. It’s stamping its masthead and running ads that change will be coming and counting down the days to its revamp as first reported in Unspun on December 15. This is welcome news as the Post certainly needs to tart up and improve its content (not to mention its terrible, terrible headlines – anybody noticed the “toothless” references in the lead stories for Pages 8 and 9, which are facing pages today?)) considering how the Jakata Globe seems to be the better looking paper today.

But while the Post takes a (hopefully) bold step forward, the Jakarta Globe seems to have taken a step back, maybe many steps back, depending on how you look at it. You have to wonder whether all the adults and professional editors were off on vacation or suffering from unspeakable hangovers to let through the story below on “poor, old Billy Sindoro” through:

Sindoro Spends Christmas in Detention

For Billy Sindoro, Christmas has always been a time for his family and his church.

This year, however, the former executive of Internet and cable-television company PT First Media Tbk spent the holiday at the West Jakarta Police detention facility.

Investigators from the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, arrested Sindoro, along with Muhammad Iqbal of the Business Competition Supervisory Commission, or KPPU, in September and accused him of attempting to bribe Iqbal.

“This Christmas is exceptionally hard for me,” Sindoro told the Jakarta Globe in a meeting room at the detention facility on Christmas night.

“My wife and kids,” he said. “I have two kids, they both study abroad. Christmas is the time they come home. It has always been the day we all look forward to. It’s different now, how can I describe it?”

He said that looking at his children when they come to visit left him “shaken.”

His eyes wandered around the room, gazing at the dirty ceiling covered with dust and cobwebs, the rundown walls peppered with cracks and leaks, at the policemen standing by across the room and other detainees peering through the window.

“Chaos, that’s what I felt when I first got here, my heart was in chaos. I did not understand what was going on,” he said.

He said that he was first put in a tiny cell with a dozen other inmates, some of whom were hardened criminals and drug addicts.

“I thought to myself, what did I do to deserve this? I have done nothing wrong,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion.

However, Sindoro said that he has since found peace by entrusting everything to God.

“God must have a plan for me. He wouldn’t give me a burden that I could not bear,” he said.

Later in the evening, Sindoro’s wife, children and in-laws attended a Christmas celebration at the station. They declined to comment.

Sindoro is accused of giving Iqbal Rp 500 million ($45,500) to influence a KPPU ruling on a monopoly case involving PT Direct Vision, an associate company of First Media.

Iqbal was on the KPPU panel hearing complaints against Direct Vision and three other companies — pan-regional cable TV company Astro All Asia Network, Astro’s content arm, All Asia Multimedia Networks, and ESPN Star Sports. The complaints centered on an alleged monopoly over the broadcast rights for last season’s English Premier League football matches.

On Aug. 29, the KPPU cleared Direct Vision and Astro of wrongdoing and found All Asia and ESPN guilty of monopolistic practices. The commission also ruled that Astro, then in a dispute with Direct Vision over a joint venture, must continue to provide content to Direct Vision.

Prosecutors allege that bribe money was paid to Iqbal to get the article on content provision inserted in the commission’s decision.

Sindoro’s lawyer, Humprey Djemat, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that it was Iqbal who informed Sindoro, at that point no longer a First Media executive, about Astro’s decision to shift the provision of content from Direct Vision to Aora TV.

“Even though he had retired from First Media, DV was his baby,” Humprey said. “He was there before it even started. So he agreed to discuss the matter with Iqbal. Iqbal said there should be an article that prevented the move and Billy agreed to draft it.”

Humprey said the case was a misunderstanding.

“You see, Billy often forgets things, he is well known for that,” he said, adding that the Rp 500 million had been intended for DV’s lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea, and somehow was given to the wrong recipient.

First Media, Direct Vision and the Jakarta Globe are associate companies of the Lippo Group.

Unspun wept like a third rate Taiwanese melodarama actress when he read this story, which lays it thicker than any other Christmas soap he’s seen or heard.

Those who care and are keen observers of the media scene will want to ask these questions:

  1. Why is Billy Sindoro more newsworthy than others indicted for corruption (imagine Humphrey Bogart: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…”)
  2. Who assigned the reporter to write this piece?
  3. Did James or any of his henchmen inspire this assignment?
  4. When Billy told the reporter: “I thought to myself, what did I do to deserve this? I have done nothing wrong,” did said reporter ask him, “Perhaps it’s because you bribed a KPPU member?”
  5. When Billy’s lawyer, Humprey Djemat, said that Billy often forgets things is he then admitting that Billy did indeed pass over the black bag containing Rp 500 million to the KPPU’s Iqbal? If he said this then he’s demolishing one of this own lines of defence, which is that there’s no evidence that Billy passed over the money to Iqbal, since there i no videoclip of the actual handover itself.
  6. Is the Globe venturing into New Journalism ala Tom Wolfe now with prosaic descriptions like: “His eyes wandered around the room, gazing at the dirty ceiling covered with dust and cobwebs, the rundown walls peppered with cracks and leaks, at the policemen standing by across the room and other detainees peering through the window…” Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who advised budding writers to “kill your own darlings” must be turning over in his grave.

The interesting question is whether this is a professional decision to run this story as it is, at which case a discussion on the professionalism might be in order, or was this a case of diving intervention from On High, at which case it opens up a whole new discussion all together.

Coincidentally Mediacare carried this story and other stories about Billy, and one strange casting aspersions on Mohd. Iqbal.

Ah, its good to be back in Indonesia. There’s never a dull moment.

A Neumann to head new paper in Indonesia

Unspun sniffed it in the wind some time ago. But now, finally, word is out that the Lippo Group, euphoric from publishing its good news magazine Globe Asia, is now set to publish a new English-language business daily to take The Jakarta Post head on.

Word is also out that James has appointed A. Lin Neumann, whose latest gig is as Asia Consultant to the Committe to Protect Journalists, the editor-in-chief of this paper. Lin has worn many journalistic hats, among them the executive editor of The Standard and a founder and executive editor of the Asia Sentinel. He also pens for Asia Times.

Credentials, and turning up with a long-time Indonesian hand and respected journo notwithstanding, Neumann did not have an easy job convincing the cynical habitues at the Face Bar last week that he would be able to run a paper with integrity, considering who his bosses are.

The booze was flowing and Unspun is sure that there is some exaggeration but some witnesses to the exchange said that Neumann appeared rather dismayed after he was “pummled” by all the cynicism.

Unspun thinks this is rather unkind. After all, Neumann’s boss-to-be owns the only English-language business magazine in town (one can only wonder where the EIC of that magazine got the idea from, at the lobby lounge of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel,  after Forbes pulled out in the 11th hour) and also the second best university in Indonesia after University Indonesia (eat their dust ITB, UGM and others).

How does Unspun know?

It says so in one of the recent issues of Globe Asia (and without a disclosure statement that Globe Asia an the University have a common owner).

Is the crowd in Face Bar a bunch of old geezers merely high on booze and cynicism, or do they have a point?

How the WOM turns in PR

Something terribly wrong about using over 300,000 “incentivized volunteers” to practie Word of Mouth marketing. Wonder if the local Ogilvy PR office in Mandiri Tower is also in on this gig?
clipped from strumpette.com

Ogilvy Admits Ties to Nefarious International WOM Group

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Roy the Boy Strikes Again!

Our boy Roy is at it again. The very, very Talented Mr Roy is now an expert on verifying dirty pictures. The man is sooooo talented.Treespotter, who’s now back in Jakarta after gallivanting around Asia, pays homage to Roy the Boy below:

clipped from treespotter.blogspot.com

on Roy Soeryo and Elvis


The Honorable RDBMS Roy HTML Soeryo, M.Sc. PRt. XML
Photos of the Pop Top Dhani of the rock band Dewa frolicking with Mulan Kwok are surfacing on the Internet. Multimedia expert, Mr. Roy Soeryo was quick to point out that the pictures were indeed real and made predictions that other, more provocative pictures would soon be found. Mr. Soeryo was subtly suggesting that these private pictures were most probably being released intentionally by ‘parties of interests’.
This revelation was the last in a long series of previous revelations that Mr. Soeryo have preferred in the past. Most recently, Roy have positively certified the authenticity of similar pictures from the model Davina.

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Spin City

spin.jpgTalk about Spin Doctors. In this Bisnis Indonesia article today, President SBY is being asked to take advantage of a gathering of Spin Doctors in Bali to overcome the negative international image of Indonesia as a result of the EU’s bank on Indonesian airlines.

The occasion is a regional conference of the International PR Associations in Bali between September 4-6 themed Building Bridges Through Dialogue and boasts an attendance of “senior PR practitioners from 110 countries and 250 communication experts.”

One doubts the calibre of people attending this talkshop. You know about what they say: those who can, do. Those who can’t teach or attend seminars where PR people talk about paradigm shifts and practice the latest buzzwords to gratify each others Spinning Urges.

At any rate, Unspun seriously doubts if SBY can get any benefit out of speaking to the cackle of Spin Doctors. Sure, they can carry the message to the 110 countries and beyond, but would they? Experience suggests that nobody will move a muscle unless promised fat fees or speaking engagements with fat honorariums at, well, conferences.

Good thing Unspun is not attending that gabfest or there’ll be no end of unspinning to do!

Monte spins swims yet again

Unspun must admit that he is flummoxed. How can a Californian breeze into Bali, persuade do gooders in the UN and the World Food Program to sponsor him to swim a Walk the World program, not once but twice in a row?

You’d think that those do gooders would have cottoned on that swimming and walking are different physical activities.

Still, Monte takes the cake for chutzpah. This morning Unspun, a frequent awestruck observer of Monte’s antics, found in his e-mail inbox  message from the spinswim meister”sharing” a video of his latest swim. Once again, he’s sweet talked some well-meaning do gooder to sponsor him (he’s managed also to get full page endorsements by the Java/Jakartakini magazine, which makes this whole thing curiouser and curiouser. he’s also started a blog!). Why him and not some Balinese? is there some conspiracy afoot to promote people from Bush’s own country over the Balinese?

What next? Fly the walk? Crawl the Walk? Cycle the walk? Run the walk? Maybe even…walk the walk?

clipped from www.fighthunger.org

Monte Monfore Swims Again for Walk the World


Watch the video of Monte’s swim

As part of Walk the World 2007 ocean swimmer Monte Monfore achieved another world first, swimming from Lombok to Gili Tranwangan Island in Indonesia. His 7-kilometer Lombok Fight Hunger Swim follows last year’s Bali Fight Hunger Swim, where he swam a double-crossing of the 4-kilometer Bali Strait.

The 46-year-old humanitarian swimmer began his swim at Malimbu Beach in northwest Lombok under the predawn darkness at 5:45am. Prior to the start he spoke about the goal of the World Food Programme and the United Nations Millennium Campaign to end child hunger by 2015.

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The Dalai Lama has dirty little secrets?

Unspun keeps telling his clients that likeability is one of the essential skills they must develop as spokespersons for their companies. If people like you, usually because you’re so engaging, you can get away with a lot if you want to. Asia observer and author of several books on Asia Michael Backman’s latest article in The Age on the Dalai Lama seems to support this contention. His thesis is that journalists rarely challenge the Dalai Lama because he’s so likeable and engaging.

He therefore doesn’t get grilled on the irregularities that happen in his kingdom. If Backman is right the Dalai Lama must be one of the world’s best spin doctors.

clipped from www.theage.com.au
Rarely do journalists challenge the Dalai Lama.Partly it is because he is so charming and engaging. Most
published accounts of him breeze on as airily as the subject, for
whom a good giggle and a quaint parable are substitutes for hard
answers. But this is the man who advocates greater autonomy for
millions of people who are currently Chinese citizens, presumably
with him as head of their government. So, why not hold him
accountable as a political figure?No mere spiritual leader, he was the head of Tibet’s government
when he went into exile in 1959. It was a state apparatus run by
aristocratic, nepotistic monks that collected taxes, jailed and
tortured dissenters and engaged in all the usual political

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The absence of real PR in Malaysia

A post by Rocky’s Bru about Malaysia’s investment arm, Khazanah Nasional, or any of its agents, appointing Fox Communications — a PR firm created by ex-senior journalists from The Star and The New Straits Times who are close to the powers that be — reminds Unspun of a time when the chairwoman of of the PR Society of Malaysia came to Jakarta to deliver a talk.

Her topic was something hagiographic and Borat-like, “Tun’s Mahathir’s Incredible PR Powers” or something like that. She had been invited by the local PR mafia to give a talk about a book that the Society had produced about the Tun’s incredible PR powers?

Mahathir? Good PR? You gotta be joking! The man may have charisma and the talent for spitting out a good soundbite but he is anything but sensitive to his publics. he still got a lot of press coverage when he was in power because the Press in Malaysia were browbeaten to submission. So you had all those hagiographers in Malaysia who are apparently doyens of PR in Malaysia anglign for a datukship by singing Mahathir’s praises. Puhlese.

Unable to resist, Unspun asked the woman (Unspun thinks she was a Datin but can’t remember because titles mean squat moi) how she felt she was qualified to talk about PR when there was no free press in Malaysia, unlike Indonesia.

Her answer was as stupid as they come. She said Malaysia actually had a free press and pointed to a sex-related scandal the Malay mail then was uncovering. Unspun tried not to spill the chunder on the floor and nearly gagged to death.

Why this story is relevant is that Khazanah Nasional has now appointed a so-called PR firm called Fox Communications to cary out its PR program. These journalistsmay be very experienced editors and reporters, at which case they may have good news gathering, writing and even management skills but that is not necessarily the same set of skills that a good PR practitioner should have.

Speaking as someone who has been a news hack and then a PR hack for nearly more than a decade in each field, journalists usualy do not have the client servicing and counselling skills that a good PR practitioner should have.

Client servicing is very important as it involves handling the clients in such a way that you disabuse them of their more cockmanie notions and plans and point them to what they should be doing and saying. Counseling involves outlining the problems and challenges a client face, outlining the options thay ahve and helping the client to make a decision to act and speak so that they are authentic.

These are skills that Unspun had to learn in his sometimes painful transition from being a journalist for 14 years in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Tailwana and Indonesia. Unspun was lucky because he joind n international PR firm that gave him much of the training he needed to make the transition.

So why Fox Communications for Khazannah? Perhaps it has nothing to do with the practice of PR as the world knows it. Malaysia’s socio-political structure is such that patronage rules the day. So if you are a “PR firm” that works for an institution like Khazanah all you have to do is name drop and presto! The story is in front page and the page lead in others, as chronicled by Jeff Ooi here. It is patronage and its adjunt, cronyism, plain and simple. There is no need for real PR.

Unless you’re overseas that is.That is when the system of patronage prevalen in Malaysia will not protect you or make the media work for you.

Take Unspun‘s favourite Malaysian Institution in Jakarta for instance. Unspun got a call last night from a fellow PR practitioner wanting to know if Unspun‘s company was going for the Malaysian Tourism Board pitch in Indonesia.

When Unspun told him that Unspun was still of sane mind and had no intention of embarking on a hara kiri mission he asked,” Since you are not going for it and I am can I ask you how much do you think I should charge them? From what they descrive in ther Request for Proposal document, he said, they were looking for a national PR program which could easily cost them at leadt US$10,000 – US$15,000 per month. Did Unspun think the MTB would spend that much on PR?

Unspun laughed till he cried.