By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE head of a local public relations firm said she has “no objection” to the government’s hiring a foreign firm to help manage its Stronger Bahamas initiative.
Although the exact scope of its role remains unclear, the Canadian firm Fleishman-Hillard has been hired by the government to work on its new initiative alongside other local companies.
Some have criticised this arrangement, but Diane Phillips, founder of one of the country’s largest PR firms, yesterday noted that local firms have often benefited from partnering with foreign companies.
“I have worked with foreign agencies before and it has always been a good partnership,” she said. “We have learned a lot from them and they have learned cultural nuances from us. That kind of information exchange is important and it makes for great partnership.”
Although a source within the Christie administration identified Diane Phillips & Associates as one of the local companies involved with Stronger Bahamas, Mrs Phillips told The Tribune this is not the case.
Asked about the initiative, she said the relevant question is about the content of the government’s message, not who is delivering it.
She said: “The fact that they are saying a stronger Bahamas, a safer Bahamas, a Bahamas where there are more jobs for all is a beautiful vision but that’s what it is, a vision, not a path. How do we get to a safer Bahamas? When we have 64 murders this year, nearly one everyday, why can’t we embrace a zero tolerance policy? I have no objection to bringing in other people to help us with the message but I would like for the agencies to be involved in bringing the message to ensure that the message has real meaning.”
Meanwhile, a source within the government who spoke to The Tribune on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive internal matters, vehemently denied yesterday that the PLP is in campaign mode.
The denial came after FNM members and other political observers dismissed the Stronger Bahamas initiative as “propaganda”, calling it the start of the PLP’s 2017 election campaign.
In response, The Tribune’s source insisted that a defining characteristic that the party is readying itself for the next general election will be the mobilisation of its “war room”, an operation exclusively involving Bahamians who plan political strategies.
The source said the war room will be concerned with all PLP message matters, including the production of rallies, events and commercials, social media messaging, online content and speech writing.
The source said it has not yet been decided when this definitive feature of the PLP’s election campaign operation will be mobilised.
The government has set aside $3.8m in the Office of the Prime Minister for the upcoming fiscal year for “advertisements and media supplements”. It is unclear how much of this will be spent on Stronger Bahamas.
The government launched the initiative last Wednesday, to coincide with Mr Christie’s 2015/2016 Budget Communication. The plan includes a new website which touts the government’s achievements along with print and broadcast ads which have been in heavy rotation.