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The company watchdog ASIC employed exterior spin docs to cope with “doubtlessly explosive points for ASIC and its fame” arising from the banking royal fee.
- ASIC did not use an open tender to rent a PR agency to cope with reputational points from the banking royal fee
- Wells Haslem Mayhew’s charge was not disclosed, however anticipated to be greater than $10,000 a month
- The PR agency was anticipated to reshape some picture issues plaguing ASIC for 10+ years
Paperwork obtained underneath Freedom of Data by the ABC present that ASIC engaged the strategic public relations agency Wells Haslem Mayhew to assist “form” the message from the inquiry overseen by former Excessive Courtroom choose Kenneth Hayne.
“ASIC is a central actor on the RC [royal commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry],” a doc marked “CONFIDENTIAL” mentioned.
“Whereas it is going to traverse historic terrain, the RC nonetheless presents a menace to ASIC’s present fame, with witnesses certain to contest our previous conduct and look to shift historic blame to ASIC.
“These challenges are significantly poignant as they coincide with the graduation of ASIC’s new chairman James Shipton.”
Countering the media
The problems require “cautious media-political judgement”, ASIC’s senior government chief, Matthew Abbott, warned.
Senior leaders, together with ASIC’s deputy chair, Peter Kell, and the chief authorized counsel Chris Savundra, had been concerned in devising a method to handle the message from the royal fee and counter destructive publicity.
“Strategic” and “tactical” responses ASIC deemed essential to cope with potential reputational fallout included:
- “Shaping the longer-term dialogue by way of growth of messages and supplies that reinforce that … ASIC continues to repair the issues from 10-plus years in the past”
- “Utilizing media relations to contest each day reporting flowing from the royal fee by way of backgrounding reporters, briefing commentators, persuading editors”
- “Guaranteeing all ASIC spokespeople are briefed and ‘on message'”
- “Figuring out potential fame crises and actioning pre-approved responses”
Greater than 60 paperwork discussing technique for safeguarding ASIC’s fame from injury on the royal fee had been supplied to the ABC underneath freedom of data legal guidelines.
Prices stay secret
The complete value of hiring a top-level points administration agency to assist “form the message” from the royal fee isn’t clear; a few of the materials obtained is closely redacted.
However a six-figure sum is probably going, with confidential inside paperwork saying ASIC might count on to pay a retainer of greater than $10,000 a month.
“Communications/PR agency will present strategic and tactical help by way of calendar 12 months 2018. Value of help to exceed $80Okay in the course of the interval of engagement,” a doc from final December mentioned.
High-tier legislation agency Corrs Chambers Westgarth supplied authorized recommendation to ASIC on the appointment of “communication consultants” to cope with the royal fee, inside emails obtained by the ABC’s The Enterprise program present.
Excessive-level ASIC leaders had been additionally urged by ASIC’s deputy chair Peter Kell to type a royal fee “communications sub-committee” involving chief authorized counsel Chris Savundra, senior government chief, technique Greg Kirk, communications head Matthew Abbott and ASIC’s commissioners.
No full tender
Wells Haslem Mayhew was appointed with no full tender after a Request for Citation from ASIC.
ASIC initially thought-about an in depth checklist of huge and boutique disaster administration/PR companies however opted to rent from a restricted checklist of “spin docs” on an present authorities panel to keep away from the time and delay concerned in a full tender course of.
ASIC’s temporary for communications help included:
- Strategic evaluation of dangers and alternatives for ASIC from the royal fee and techniques to handle them
- A “map” of stakeholders’ positions on the royal fee, their perceptions of ASIC, and the way audiences obtain info
- Growing “message frameworks”
The message frameworks included high-level speaking factors for government leaders and protocols for communication, together with “disaster and fame administration”.
Wells Haslem Mayhew was employed in January.
It despatched ASIC an in depth communications technique and evaluation for the royal fee on February 28.
The PR agency additionally ran a “who we’re” session offsite for ASIC’s senior government leaders.