Eight PR firms decline to work with Hong Kong government

4 weeks ago
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Has the Hong Kong government damaged its image beyond repair? Public relations firms — professional image-repairers — seem to think so, at least for now.

As revealed in a leaked transcript with businesspeople that Reuters published last month, eight PR firms rejected the opportunity to work with the Hong Kong government. Four of the eight turned down the offer right away, while four others — including Brunswick, Ogilvy, and Ruder Finn — declined to bid on the contract after meeting with government representatives.

“At one point in time, we did have that idea of approaching some international PR firms to provide some advice,”Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) said at a press conference on Tuesday, as reported by BBC.

“The advice we have been given is the time is not right, because we are still in this sort of social unrest, disturbance and violent acts and vandalism on such a regular basis.

“It would perhaps not be the most cost-effective way to use the government resources to launch any campaign to rebuild Hong Kong’s reputation. But sooner or later we will have to do it, because I have every confidence in Hong Kong’s fundamentals.”

The Holmes Report, a trade publication for the PR industry, managed to get this juicy quote:

“If you want an absolutely living, breathing example of why they’ve got problems, it’s to put out a multifaceted RFP [request for proposal] while the streets are on fire,” said one agency source invited to take part. “It was completely misjudged.”

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Lam continues to insist on dialogue, and says she’s serious. Hong Kong Free Press reports:

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that her public dialogue platform will be launched next week, as anti-government protests surpass the 100-day mark.

Ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, she told reporters that dialogue platforms will be launched in three forms, including a version in which residents can take part. Each session will host up to 200 participants, with the first one beginning next week.

The other forms include a dialogue platform whereby citizens will be randomly selected, as well as a section for deeper conversations with different sectors…

“I can assure you that this is not a sort of one-off gimmick-type of function. It is intended to be organized on a sustainable, and perhaps long-term, basis,” she said.

Elsewhere:

Yesterday, “veteran activist Joshua Wong [黄之锋 Huáng Zhīfēng], musician Denise Ho [何韻詩 Hé Yùnshī], academics, and a student union representative appeared before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which has bipartisan leadership,” reports the Washington Post. They called for “tougher U.S. action, including possible sanctions, to counter China’s steady erosion of the territory’s freedoms, as momentum builds in Washington for a more robust response.”

“Almost eight in 10 hotel workers in Hong Kong have been asked to take unpaid leave as tourist arrivals continue to take a hit following three months of anti-government protests, a survey by a union has found,” according to the South China Morning Post. Hotel occupancy rates fell to as low as 30 percent on average for the first half of August.

“Hong Kong Airlines will cut seven percent of passenger flights until the end of the year as the carrier responds to a sharp fall in demand that is deepening its financial problems,” reports the South China Morning Post.

“Almost 20 staff from the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, alongside over 70 activists, student leaders and alleged protesters, have been doxxed by a website apparently run by elements opposed to the ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong,” reports the South China Morning Post.

How Hong Kong got a new protest song — the BBC tracks down “Thomas,” composer of the Hong Kong protesters anthem “Glory to Hong Kong.” See also I’ve been waiting for a song like ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ my whole life (porous paywall) by Vivienne Chow in the New York Times.

Looking back on 100 days of protests. The South China Morning Post has a new multimedia explainer: Hong Kong: 100 days of protests. The BBC has a video: Looking back at 100 days of protests in 100 seconds (watchable without sound).

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