International: Hong Kong picks B-M to lead Sars PR fight

Hong Kong: Officials in Hong Kong are preparing a communications campaign to regain the confidence of the world following the recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

The city of Hong Kong has handed Burson-Marsteller a three-month campaign brief worth more than £100,000 to mastermind the PR push - an appointment that comes hard on the heels of the agency being handed the brief to attract US business investment to the region (PRWeek, 18 April).

B-M has also been leading Hong Kong’s ongoing rebranding campaign for the past three years.

Hong Kong government spokeswoman Yvonne Choi said: ‘Burson-Marsteller is assisting the Hong Kong government in developing a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan to relaunch Hong Kong when Sars is contained.’

Sars has taken a swift toll on Hong Kong’s economy, devastating tourism, business and consumer spending.

‘The relaunch programme will involve all sectors of the community, targeting both local and overseas audiences,’ added Choi.

‘It will divide into three phases: the [current] response phase, the reassurance phase and the recovery phase.’

The effort is being run out of Burson-Marsteller’s Hong Kong office, led by MD Ian McCabe.

Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control issued warnings last month discouraging travel to Hong Kong.

Sources close to the campaign suggested that Hong Kong will be able to shift its strategy from merely managing the crisis to actively repairing the damage when travel warnings are lifted.

B-M director of global public affairs Richard Mintz said: ‘When the WHO moves, it is important that that message of containment be communicated as widely and as intensely as possible all over the world.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in