MOM to hire PR firm to “coax journalists” to write stories

By Andrew Loh
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), headed by Tan Chuan-Jin, is looking to hire a public relations firm to help it “enhance” its communications for “better effectiveness”.
According to press reports, the MOM has asked “for proposals for a plan to analyse public and online sentiments on manpower issues, and respond to them in an ‘integrated’ way, using media stories, blogs and social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.”
This latest reach for help from outside the ministry is in addition to the hiring of a firm in June – at a cost of some S$154,000 – to help the ministry “monitor daily how local and foreign media are reporting news related to the ministry.”
According to the Straits Times’ report:

When contacted, the ministry confirmed that it requested proposals from experts last week but declined to give details, including expected costs.
Its spokesman would only say: “MOM continually reviews our communication and publicity efforts for our announcements and policies.
“The request for proposals is part of our ongoing effort to enhance our communications, and explore new communication channels for better effectiveness.”

Among the “strategic communications services” which the MOM requires from the potential PR firm is “coaxing journalists to write one or two MOM stories a month, and getting MOM officials featured in live and recorded TV and radio programmes every three months.”
“Its letter to prospective firms also said the chosen company will have to write commentaries every two months, although it is unclear where these commentaries would be published,” the Straits Times reports.

Tan Chuan-Jin
Tan Chuan-Jin
The Ministry currently runs a blog site, along with its official ministry website, in addition to its social media outlets.
It also has a corporate communications department headed by Ms Chong Wan Yieng.
When asked about the cost of hiring the PR firm, the MOM declined to disclose details.
In March, the news reported the Economic Development Board (EDB) hiring a PR firm “to oversee domestic public relations, along with project activity in India and China.” (See here.)
It reported that “the two year assignment is worth S$900k.”

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