Look for an exodus of PR people from Hong Kong in the aftermath of today’s forced closure of Apple Daily, the free-wheeling pro-democracy tabloid, by the Chinese government.
PR thrives in an atmosphere that encourages debate and the lively exchange of free expression.
Hong Kong, which had a judicial system based on British law, served as a safe haven for PR people targeting mainland China.
Beijing’s introduction of a draconian security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020 marked the beginning of the end of PR in the city.
The demise of Apple Daily, which was a thorn in the side of the communist government, seals the deal.
The US State Dept. on June 17 strongly condemned the arrest of five Apple Daily executives on trumped up charges “of collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
Spokesperson Ned Price warned that killing media freedom and restricting the flow of information not only undermines democratic institutions but also hurts Hong Kong’s credibility and viability as an international hub.
The Financial Times editorialized on June 23 that the Apple Daily shutdown will lead to self-censorship by other publications.
The Chinese government crackdown goes beyond journalism.
A PR firm, for instance, could be skittish about taking on a client who criticizes Chinese policies or competes with state-owned companies. Why risk a hefty jail sentence?
Meanwhile the first show trial has begun for the more than 100 people who were arrested under the security law.
A 23-year-old man, who crashed his motorcycle into riot police while flying an anti-government protest flag, has been charged with terrorism and inciting secession. He could get life in prison.
Do PR people want to operate in a place that imprisons the freedom of ideas?
Eric Adams is no friend of the press. The Brooklyn borough president, who is leading the New York City Democratic mayoral primary contest, barred two reporters from his victory party held at a hotel in Williamsburg on June 22.
Ross Barkan and David Freedlander have written critically about the thin-skinned Adams.
Freedlander profiled Adams as the candidate of the “old political machine” in a piece for New York.
The Adams people claimed Barkan and Freedlander were denied entry to the ericadamsfornyc party because of space constraints.
Juan Benitez, a reporter for New York One, shot down that notion, reporting there was a lot of available space at the inn.
Barkan blogged that he has never been banned from any kind of election party or campaign event.
In 2016, he covered election night parties in New Hampshire and Florida for president Trump, a guy who views the press as the “enemy of the people.”
After being banned from Adams’ party, Barkan and Freelander strolled over to cover Kathryn Garcia’s election night event.
In NYC’s new ranked voting set-up Garcia still has a shot to become mayor.
I got my fingers crossed.
Amazon faces the PR battle of its life as the powerful International Brotherhood of Teamsters union declares Jeff Bezos' behemoth public enemy No. 1.
The Teamsters, the No. 1 union of warehouse and logistics workers, view Amazon’s low wages and harsh working conditions as a threat to their superior pay and benefits that were gained over the years via brass-knuckled collective bargaining.
Rather than pursuing the traditional route of organizing a union vote at Amazon warehouses, the Teamsters are opting for a PR strategy centered on protests, strikes and boycotts to hike the pressure on Amazon.
Randy Korgan, Teamsters’ national director for Amazon, wrote in Salon that his union must engage members, forge strong community-labor alliances and integrate transformative social justice organizing into their work.
“We must expand these efforts over time because it is the only chance we have to combat the threat Amazon poses to Teamsters, our families and our communities,” he wrote.
At their international convention on June 23, the Teamsters cited Amazon in urging the House Judiciary Committee to toughen antitrust laws.
Amazon, according to Teamsters general president Jimmy Hoffa, uses its dominant position in AWS, retail e-commerce and anticompetitive practices to become the dominant firm in the last-mile-delivery portion of the logistics industry.
“Amazon also abuses its market power in e-commerce to restrict third party sellers’ options of last mile delivery and logistics firms—and in the process is destroying middle class jobs,” he said.
Happy Amazon Prime Day, indeed.
Jun. 24, 2021, by Joe Honick
The suggestion that Hong Kong heralds the end of PR there is much too premature. There are far too many examples of firms quite willing to take on promotion and crisis management for folks we do not like or may be even established foes. The blatant relationships and promotion of most of Wall Streeters with Nazi Germany in the 30s before Pearl Harbor, including the Bernays realities, were hardly if ever demeaned until much later when they were almost all redeemed. Putin has used American firms who claim their Constitutional "rights" to make money that way.
So do not be surprised if American PR names quietly pop up no matter what fate Hong Kong faces.