As someone who spent almost five years working in PR, I do understand its importance. PR is vital to any brand, cause or government. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how good your product is or how true to your cause you are: if your PR is rubbish, you might as well go home. But there is such a thing as over-PRing things and, in Malta, we take it to a whole new level.
Take two of the biggest stories of the past ten days and you’ll see what I mean.
Let’s start with the government’s reputed €40,000 bill to inaugurate the first two flyovers at the Marsa junction. This is literally like a hairdresser charging you an extra €60 for a bottle of champagne to celebrate the fact that they’ve cut your hair against payment; after all, the flyovers and the inauguration were both paid for by us.
It’s been verging on the ridiculous for years. Remember when our Prime Minister threw a press conference to tell us the price of diesel had gone down by 0.02c? Have you seen all the Facebook and YouTube adverts promoting basic work by ministers?
I’m not sure what y’all are trying to prove but, honestly, I hate everything more because I see our hard-earned money going to shameless self-promotion. That money could be going into building new classrooms, helping the homeless or providing a healthy environment for the patients at Mount Carmel. But, no, it’s going to continue boosting the egos and re-election chances of the few at the expense of the many.
Similar to this is the new Pink October zebra crossing inaugurated by Michelle Muscat, Ħabiba Perla, and (who else?) Ian Borg. At the risk of becoming known as the Grinch who stole Pink October, these stunts are getting really old. The zebra crossing idea was cool when it was done the first-time round; now it’s just lazy.
And, before anyone misquotes me: no, this is not an attack on Pink October or what it’s meant to serve. I lost three grandparents to cancer. It’s nothing to laugh about and it’s nothing to make self-PR out of. Raising awareness should be about telling people how to look for lumps and provisioning funds to better the equipment and the lives of the patients and the medical practitioners who face cancer on a daily basis. Pink-and-white zebra crossings and fuchsia floodlights just don’t cut it.
How can these things not piss you right off? How much money are we going to see wasted in the self-aggrandising of those who are paid to do the bare minimum for the greater good? How much money are we going to let go of when it could go to those who genuinely need help? My guess is many more thousands.