A matter of life and death

Tomorrow's Business

How much do governments spend on public relations?

Googling doesn’t immediately get me the answer, but I’m assuming it is disclosed somewhere.

Aside from the internal costs of running, say, the PR operation of the Department for Transport, government bodies hire PR firms all of the time.

This here (https://hv.t.hubspotemail.net/e2t/tc/VXjgSK8tJHytN27tD6xplNCmW842MfZ4d3h6kN39GZD33p_9rV1-WJV7CgHs6VY4xsn1tYX6yW8V7-MP5f2Y_NW2jDZ8W6YjxW1W3tczhm6t9ZXLW7fR4MN8psw18W2hb_2w70G-3XVjv7xr3JZqs-W118HXR7DFgwrW5NxtX76NT72pVvMFPl6Qd822W73FHyb5f2PzfW994Z119b2HQvV_HDZn3sWW4jW5Hgx5C1ZY6rvW1CcMFf7xdL3QW90vgv3986C2ZW2FJRl23-S-vkW5qjYTc7cBWpqN1m38pKwn6PpW8qtSzB7npQ2WW4jcTC954BhsrN4kdTbqN9wlTW8zC-gp35RyNjW6-MYYv1Y8TgWW43y24W4TgQk2W1nVglP1L3dxG3p9g1) from the US Government Accountability Office reveals that the American government spent $1.5 billion on PR in 2017.

Closer to home, this document here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/100389/9242_public_relations.pdf, shows that the UK Home Office spends between £500,000 a year and £1.75 million a year on PR just in fees to agencies.

The figures are old, but Fishburn Hedges, the Red Consultancy and the Forster Company seem to do well.

If the government isn’t presently hiring professional PR help then a) you can tell. b) it really should.

Part of the inevitable investigations into how the UK handled Covid-19 should surely focus on messaging. And whether that messaging, hopelessly confused it seems to me, contributed to higher rates of infection.

Generally speaking, PR is not a matter of life and death. Lately, it seems plausible to argue that it has been, and I think we should be told.

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