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Wilchcombe Attacks Pr Firm Hiring

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe revealed yesterday the Ministry of Tourism saved the government $3.5m in agency fees and commissions last year as he defended the capacity of the ministry’s in-house public relations team.

Reacting to reports that the ministry has re-engaged global PR firm Weber Shandwick, Mr Wilchcombe said it was unfortunate the Minnis administration would prefer to spend millions creating employment overseas.

He underscored that the cadre of young professionals at the Ministry of Tourism must not be overlooked or shunned.

Mr Wilchcombe said: “Bahamians have the capacity and have proven to be equal to the task of any professional in the tourism industry. We have been in the business for almost 55 years now. We must reduce our dependence on foreigners and give more responsibility to qualified Bahamians, black, white, FNM or PLP.”

He continued: “We should spare no efforts in getting the best of our young people engaged in the sustained growth and development of our number one industry. I dare say it is most unfortunate that we would prefer to spend millions creating employment overseas as opposed to spending even less in creating employment for qualified, creative and competent Bahamians to develop an enviable communications division that could only grow in the interest of the Bahamas.”

Weber Shandwick was dropped in 2013 by the former Progressive Liberal Party administration after an 18-year long run with the ministry.

The PR firm was reportedly re-engaged by the Ministry of Tourism in recent weeks; however, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar declined comment yesterday.

Notwithstanding the savings, Mr Wilchcombe pointed to the numerous international accolades awarded during the last term as he recounted the Christie administration’s decision to sever ties with the global PR firm and instead utilise Bahamian talent. He noted that the relationship ended on good terms, and praised the firm as an industry leader.

“When we severed our relationship with Weber it was predicated on a vision to bring all components of communications, including public relations in house utilising qualified, competent and creative Bahamians to run the division,” Mr Wilchcombe said.

“In fact, the division was headed by Mia Weech Lange who was attached to Weber during my 2002-2007 tenure to become familiar with the operations of a major public relations agency. She and her team of young Bahamians represent the premium quality of Bahamian talent. Through their work the exposure of this country of multi-destinations sky rocketed.”

He continued: “Our team stood head and shoulders with all professionals in the industry. The acclaim of the Bahamas team was seen by the myriad of awards including winner of USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Caribbean Celebration (Junkanoo) for two consecutive years; winner of the World Tourism Award for Leading Wedding Destination; winner of the Luxury Destination Award and numerous print awards.

“In 2016, the Bahamas was ranked in the top ten most searched destination globally by Expedia in its summer travel report showing a five per cent increase over the previous year. “In 2016 Bloomberg ranked the Bahamas the number one vacation spot for America’s wealthiest. Through the division’s initiative our culture was taken to the world through the famed Music Voyager 6 series - 30 minute episodes that won numerous global awards.”

Mr Wilchcombe noted the ministry’s plans to establish a fully equipped communications division with a digital platform headed by young Bahamian professional Andre Miller.

He added that the Ministry of Tourism’s communications team generated more than $600m worth of media exposure for the country during the December to May 2016 period.

The Weber Shandwick contract follows redundancies in the Ministry of Tourism’s Grand Bahama office earlier this month that affected 11 persons. In July, 12 persons were recalled to Nassau after the ministry amalgamated its Washington, DC, and Los Angeles offices with New York and Houston.

Mr D’Aguilar had previously said that move would save around $1 million a year.

Mr Wilchcombe previously defended his decision to increase the size of the ministry’s staff by 55 per cent during his 2012 -2017 term, telling Tribune Business the move was done within the ministry’s budgetary constraints.

Yesterday, he said the ministry had seen tremendous progress and was slowly filling its human capital needs through an extensive search for the “best and the brightest.”

Comments

Regardless 1 month, 1 week ago

......the new minister should have put the PR contract out for bids so all interested parties, including Bahamians, could participate.

Tourism has been negligent, very much under Wilchcombe's watch, to put contracts out to bid period!

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realfreethinker 1 month, 1 week ago

Obie is a real piece of shit. he saved $3.5mil using in house PR and tourism has been stagnant or falling under his watch. What an idiot you saved $3.5mil but lose $100mil in possible revenue. Only in the PLP

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 1 week ago

While Obie is very unpopular at the moment and should've allowed this statement to be released by someone who has more public reception, the outgoing minister is correct.

How can you rationalize making Bahamians redundant, regardless of political persuasion, but on the back end contract a foreign firm.

Are Bahamian's not capable of marketing The Bahamas, is this the message D'Aguilar is sending?

Do Bahamian's not deserve the opportunity to - at minimum - submit a proposal to do the same?

Wow D'Aguilar, continue to lose popularity by the day.

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banker 1 month, 1 week ago

Are Bahamian's not capable of marketing The Bahamas

The short answer is "no". Not for the reason that you think. The field is called "Media Buy" and it involves market analytics, research, and digital eCommerce. There are no media houses in the Bahamas that fit the bill.

It is not enough to buy media in traditional places (remember the New York subway media buy that was a major fiasco and waste of millions under the older PLP regime?). You need to know what allocation that you will do for online advertising, and in what geographic areas and what demographics to target. There are software platforms now (similar to the ones used by salesforce.com) that do continuous analysis and allocation. You have to have the data to efficiently calculate what part of your media buy budget goes to what medium -- whether online or print or whatever. If it is print and television, then you have to identify your demographic and create ads to target that demographic. Obviously you want someone with experience to do this, and sadly, because of the small, insular population of The Bahamas, we do not have that expertise.

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 1 week ago

Can you kindly refer me to the study conducted or the Request for Proposal conducted that effectively eliminated Bahamians or proved that a lack Bahamian talent or interest required foreign consultation? Since the election - I've purchased copies of all the traditional dailies on a constant basis and have seen no such RFP's or requests for intent.

If this is all coming from the top of your doom - without any reason or evidence to prove that all Bahamians that have had the opportunity to study and/or practice abroad totally missed any chance to obtain the required marketing knowledge - YOU think is required to sell our country on a global scale - then you are just as bad as the guy over at the hotel that imports foreign labor to complete Bahamian jobs for double the salary.

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banker 1 month, 1 week ago

In the rolodex of my previous life, a client of mine did a Capabilities Survey of the PR firms in the Bahamas. The usual suspects showed up, such as Diane Phillips, The Councillors, Digital Isle etc etc and none of them had the contacts, the platform, the analytics capability of doing a major, mult-million dollar media buy. Specifically they were looking at launching a medical devices campaign, and were looking to do Programmatic Media Buying with Data & Decisioning Solutions.

What these things are, is a meta-data analysis platform run on a powerful server containing rules engines and a plethora of marketing statistics to analyse and determine the where, what, why and how of advertising.

The technology of advertising has rapidly progressed, and with the decline of the third estate (newspapers etc), one uses decision support software to get the biggest bang for the buck. These decision support tools costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for the software, and after that, an expensive subscription to data collection companies that garner data from internet click-thrus, advertising experiments by mail in various markets, etc.

It is not a matter of know-how -- there are categorically no Bahamian firms with the infrastructure or manpower to do the job of worldwide marketing.

It is naive to think otherwise. Like most folks here, many do not know what they don't know. Media buying is now a science and skill done by statisticians and data scientists who feed the savvy marketers who have contacts in the industry.

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realfreethinker 1 month, 1 week ago

If there were capable Bahamians to handle the PR why has tourism been in decline for past few years. BahamasFor bahamians, you are one o those trained under the old plp regime huh. you are so close minded. that is why the country is so far behind. What has Bhamianization gotten us in the past 40 years?

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Rontom 1 month, 1 week ago

In my line of work, as I suppose marketing is, data and data analysis represent all of how a service improves or a product is further developed. whether qualitative or quantitative, data can be obtained through different methods, surveys, focus groups, random sampling etc... Analysis of this data collected and adjustments to existing system represent the way we improve our service. And it involves meeting the needs of the customer, improving on your delivery of service or product, and continuous innovation to be relevant.. Media Buy is a very specific tool use to optimize pre-established outcomes on data collected in the above fashion to a specific targeted population... (pause and think for a moment). Are you suggesting that the many talented marketing professional young Bahamians are not able to Market the Bahamas? And the target population is not limited to North America only. Come on.

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banker 1 month, 1 week ago

No, what I am saying is that those talented individuals do not have the assets and resources to back them up. Big firms employ data scientists to make sense of the data the you mention ... methods, surveys, focus groups, random sampling etc...

For example (and this was explained to me by my client) -- they need to do things like Map-Reduce and K-Means clustering of Big Data, using HDFS file systems and powerful Hadoop servers. It's just not enough to know that clients from snowy Toronto or Minnesota want to escape the winter in the warm sunny climes. You have to target the demographics with analytics and models derived from the very detailed analysis. You need to know how to identify them, know where they live, how to reach them with what media, and how much of your media spend goes to them in the overall demographic of your visitors. That is part of the extensive costs.

I was not talking specifically about Media Buy the tool, but rather media buy, the discipline and the analytics that has to go into this. Name me one firm in the Bahamas who regularly buys internet click data on a monthly basis, puts in into a data warehouse, does analytics and business intelligence cube operations on it and then sells the analytics to Fortune 500 companies. No one.

And that is why they are not qualified to do the work. Any reasonable human being, including Bahamians can have the knowledge and skills, but if they do not have the infrastructure behind them, then they can't do the job. It is like asking a cabinet maker to make fine furniture with rough carpenter tools.

We need all of the expert help that we can get to lure visitors to our shores. We can't give this job to someone who is not as prepared or equipped as the big boyz in the field. It is a matter of survival and it is that simple.

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Rontom 1 month, 1 week ago

Marketing of The Bahamas can be done by Bahamians...the ability to use big data may not be (I am not certain of the talent pool here.) Having said that though, big data is again a tool that is manipulated/used to predict anything from where Obama's voters would most likely eat dinner to what destination a 43yr divorcee will go on vacation (as you are suggesting). Having access to that information or being able to tease-out that from varied sources, is different from Marketing. Yes, a lot of marketing houses use big data analytics to target anyone from consumers, to students to patients. We may or may not have that skill-set in spades here, but we definitely can market our country and out-source big-data analytics. You might find this interesting. http://www.kdnuggets.com/2014/07/interview-amy-gershkoff-ebay-in-house-BI-tools.html

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banker 1 month, 1 week ago

I am huge fan of kdnuggets! Know them well and like Gregory Piatetsky. I am on his mailing list. Especially now since we process big data to trade derivatives (the fundamental and Black Swan guys use a lot of it). Glad to see that other Bahamians are plugged into this discipline! Never saw any BI engagement before in the Bahamian milieu.

The big thing about Bahamians doing it, is that it would require a capital asset investment to create the infrastructure. There isn't enough business (aside from the MOT) to create that infrastructure.

Having wasted 6 months of my life trying to get this medical instruments project going from the Bahamas, I can assure you that a multi-million dollar media buy is not a mom-and-pop venture. Even the Councillors (I have appeared on TV, going to their tiny studio in the basement with cardboard backdrops and mixers that I've seen in tiny rural cablecast systems in the USA), with their large-ish staff couldn't scale to do the regional media buys.

I don't disagree with you about Bahamians doing the job. However the Bahamian firm would need several international projects to garner the cultural expertise to market worldwide. We are not there yet.

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licks2 1 month, 1 week ago

Why anybody talk with you I don't know. . .as Dame Sawyer said: "JUST SHUT UP! BUT BAHAMAS FOR BAHAMIANS. . .MORE LIKE BAHAMAS FOR PLP!!

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licks2 1 month ago

Like BPL them Bahamian firms were doing the work for the last five years . . .with a serious down-turn in productivity. . .more than likely given to some PLP family, friend or lover. . .LOL!

I say get some "over-seas" firm if we Bahamians are doing "jook-jook" work. I wont be supprise if that contract is not held by a back-door company of one of these well know PLP persons. . .yea. . .tell us who owned the company that was getting all that money while the nation was losing about 100 million in lost revenue!!

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Sickened 1 month, 1 week ago

Isn't Obie slated to be the next guy doing the Bank Lane shuffle. If the rumor mill continues to be spont-on accurate then Obie will soon be on the front page again.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Comrades! The two people who know the least about how attract tourists to Bahamaland's Beaches - are Obadiah and Dionisio. You'd have say the only man's who knew how to 'poke the tourism's mommy' - was Tourism Minister Sir Stafford - the Father of not only Bahamaland's but the Caribbean's 19th Century tourism industry. In fact, the Bahamaland's tourism quality and her people were their very best back then.

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licks2 1 month, 1 week ago

Another PLP talking nonsense. . .this one talking about apple and compared to oranges. . .and over 60 years or so to compare to 2017. . .who does teach these PLPs them. . .they will hurt ya last "breen" cell with how they reason!

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

Obie did no increase stopover visitors at all .Which is amazing b/c just the US recovering from the recession should of increased our stopover .All the other players in the region made gains .Obie instead of having your handpicked lovers ,friends and cronies that kick pack living abroad on our tax dollars ,I would much rather have it in the hands of a professional firm w/ worldwide contacts and experience .Obie you and "not so Pleasant Bridgewater " need to fade from the public .The only time we need to see either of you is in front of a judge for BOB loans or in front of a commission .

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 1 week ago

I actually agree with Obie.

Mussee cold in hell today....

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sealice 1 month, 1 week ago

He's really saying this?? Didn't they have some british know it all hired as a consultant - he's gotta be worse then foreign.... he's bloody british weren't they your last slave masters? Come on obie get yer schit straight.....

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 1 week ago

The guy was actually a Bahamian - with a British accent - similar to the poodle currently occupying the Minister of Tourism's office.

Also does the outgoing , unpopular yellow shirts missteps validate D'Aguilar making the very same mistakes?

Lol are you that consumed with your party that you'd give him a pass on something you guys openly criticized a member on the other side of the floor for doing.

A special good morning to Jamal Moss - Minister of the Internet and defender of The Red Shirt.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Comrade BahamasForBahamians, in July 2016, Bahamaland's Department Vital Statistics (BDVS) published for the very first time, that (23) Bahamalanders, does wokes up each morning speaking with a British accent? I guess they mussy dreamed they were English and likened it too much return talks normal. We all knows who a few them is. Right? Read my posts and you knows instantly- that's I couldn't possibly be one them.

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Gotoutintime 1 month, 1 week ago

So very true Tal---So very true!

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baldbeardedbahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

Hey Séance, I think you will find if you care to explore that thing called history that Americans were actually the last slave masters as the British Navy, after the abolition of slavery in the Empire, spent many years intercepting American slave ships and landing the freed slaves on New Providence. Fox Hill' Adelaide;' settlements of Africans freed by the British from slave ships. Many of todays Afro-Bahamian families' descendants actually owe a debt of gratitude to the British. Surprising, isn't it? Schools should teach the whole truth or as much of it as is available and not just the politically expedient stuff. The Bahamas is a great country to live in, partly because our disparate races rub along pretty well together with mutual respect and affection. Or am I mistaken in this belief?

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 1 week ago

Most fair and forward thinking Bahamians will agree with this statement, as unpopular as the yellow shirt making the statement may be.

Unfortunately, we have individuals - some that comment here - who are so consumed in their party's colors that they see party over country and therefore anything their preferred party utters is gospel.

It is a sad day in The Bahamas when Bahamians can defend firing Bahamians to hire a foreign firm - sad is an understatement.

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

Under Obie we lost stop over ,,Jamaica even took market share from us after the recession .Yes there maybe be Bahamians qualified , but I would rather pay a multi billion dollar firm that has the people /contacts in place globally ,knowledge and data programs then a start up or Obies friends ,lovers to live abroad .There are very good Bahamian mechanics , I,m a marine mechanic , but would you want me to build your next outboard from scratch or your next faux Mercedes

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 1 week ago

I would definitely like to give you the opportunity to do so -with the right apprenticeship and tools- ten years from know it would be a glory for me to say I've empowered a Bahamian and by extension aided in the creation of a Bahamian business and industry - I thought this was the premise of Government - empowering Bahamians.

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concernedcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

With our labor cost ,b/c of poorly trained and below sub par education and low worth ethic , and our sky high energy cost there is no way we could compete w the Japanese,korean car manufacturers or the ones in the US ,there is a BMW plant is South Carolina .Read above what Banker post ,these are billion dollar firms ,w the data ,high powered servers etc .You see the Sandals commercials , Cayman etc ,,they are all done by large firms in the US for a fraction of what we would spend .I worked the commercial the ministry did for the super bowl under Obie w Rick Fox in the Exumas .I,m a boat capt/mechanic ,that's my profession .the foreign firm Obie paid to do the commercial had 10 s of millions of dollars of equipment and talented people ,,that is their profession .Obie hired them ,,Obie is talking shit to hear his head rattle and try and stay relevant ,,I swear alliance to no party ,I vote for who I think is the best leader at the time and would not vote for Tommy T in 2002

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Comrades! And, I thought Obadiah was the worst possible choice for the crown's tourism minister. But if you think the colonial tourism mentality was well alive under Obadiah - a system that denied the natives access to their own beaches - just you wait for Dionisio to get going full steam with padlocking the peoples beaches access. Don't be shocked if the red shirts proposed redevelopment of Bay Street - does see the natives 'Access Denied' to mingle with the Chinese Landlords Shopkeepers and the tourists?

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alfalfa 1 month, 1 week ago

I may listen to what he says, when he repays the millions he owes BOB, and if he is re-elected. Until then Ha Ha.

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CatIslandBoy 1 month, 1 week ago

Obviously Obie has lost any authority to comment on matters of Tourism. He knows nothing about how to grow the tourist industry, and actually caused us to lose market share under his watch. I have been told that doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. While I don't want any Bahamian to lose their job, this American firm have proven their capability, while our workers in the foreign offices has not. In times of austerity we need the best bang for our buck.

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SP 1 month, 1 week ago

Obie Weasel said, "We have been in the business for almost 55 years now."

He conveniently forgot to mention we have been total failures, slipping from the #1 Island resort destination in the region to off the chart! Marketing our tourism product produced stopovers figures in steady decline and the Bahamas have the weakest tourism based GDP in the immediate region with a cesspool like Haiti having better tourism growth than the Bahamas.

Obie Weasel cannot identify a single achievement or successful initiative he can claim responsibility for after 10 years as minister of tourism and is so accustomed to "smoke and mirror" tactics he has long lost any moral compass!

SHUT UP & GO A-W-A-Y WEASEL

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