There’s a way of giving people bad news called in PR circles a shit sandwich – basically you give people something happy and fluffy, then the bad news, then something happy and fluffy so you can brush on past it.
And we’ve been paying for some expensive ones through the Ministry of Primary Industries.
The new ministry – formed just last year – comes with a communications (ie PR) team of at least 18 – so it’s not like they can’t sugar-coat news to the public as it is. But beyond that they’ve been forced to reveal spending more than $250,000 on 3 PR companies. More than $33,000 on the botulism scare, $30,000 on Aquaculture, $13,000 on didymo, $18,000 on the “Primary Growth Partnership” …
It’s probably more – initially they revealed nothing in response to the OIA until they were pushed further.
On top of this, the ministry paid thousands for associated costs such as photocopying, mileage, internet, media monitoring and taxis to the contractors.
There were also more than 3400 emails, excluding those sent during the botulism scare, sent between MPI and communications professionals which MPI said would cost $11,278 to review and print and refused to do so.
MPI was previously accused of squandering taxpayers’ cash when it was revealed it would spend $900,000 on rebranding following the merger of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with the Fisheries Ministry and the Food Safety Authority.
Yup, they need to spend so much on PR to tell you your news about what your Ministry is doing. You get to pay to have your info dressed up and sugar-coated, and turned into happy little shit-sandwiches, so you won’t notice them giving you bad news unless you take a big bite. And you get to pay up to $175/hour for it, because National have cut back too much on civil servants.