Haris Ahmed Chicago: Federal Agencies and PR as a Strategic Expense
Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, is the founder, chair, and CEO of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a public relations and management consulting company that conducts management and executive training. Haris Ahmed and Chicago PR firm Pragmatium draw upon the cumulative experience of its founder, executives, and affiliated professionals to provide strategic services to both individuals and organizations. Today, he talks about federal agencies, their public relations requirements, and how engaging PR firms will help cut costs and allow them to focus on their core competencies.
With thousands of agencies that have offices across the country and representative offices in consulates and embassies worldwide, one could say that the U.S. federal government is one of the largest employers in the world. It is also one of the biggest spenders, with a 2016 appropriation of over $4.2 trillion, a figure that dwarfs the combined revenues of the ten highest-earning companies in the world.
It is also public knowledge that for fiscal year 2017, the budget deficit will reach roughly $556 billion, contributing to a projected public debt of close to $14.8 trillion. Because of this, the new Trump administration has proposed drastic cuts to several agencies and programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USAid, and Obamacare.
Federal agencies’ public relations expenses will not be spared either. Forbes reported that from 2007 to 2015, the federal government spent $4.35 billion on internal public relations and employed roughly 3,100 PR officers. In addition, the average federal PR employee salary was 70% higher than that received by their counterparts in the private sector. Indeed, working in federal agencies has become a lucrative source of income for PR practitioners.
It may be argued that the relatively large allotment for PR is a function of the scope and breadth of the federal government and its global reach. However, it might also be due to inefficient strategies that do little to shape public opinion of the U.S. government throughout the world.
For instance, Forbes reported that the State Department spent $630,000 to convince taxpayers to “like” the department’s Facebook page. While the State Department argued that it was raising awareness of its activities, one senator countered that the department was merely promoting itself and its secretary. If it was indeed a political exercise, it didn’t exactly work out for the incumbent, who shockingly lost the 2016 election.
This is where professional PR agencies come in. By getting external PR consultants to perform promotional activities, federal agencies can focus on their more immediate tasks, such as providing social services, building infrastructure, or securing the nation’s territory and citizens based overseas. In addition, the government will get PR services at a fraction of the cost. Finally, external PR service providers are well-equipped to take on the challenges of an environment where social media reigns supreme. By running efficient, targeted campaigns, PR firms are able to shape the public image of a government and administration that is seeking to collaborate with friendly forces and minimize the influence of those who pose a threat to the American way of life.
Haris Ahmed from Chicago believes that federal agencies and PR firms need to come up with a single message—one that shows that the government does mean business.