The recent round of political battle between PML-N and PTI ignited a controversy with questions regarding the mismanagement of funds by the Board of Trustees of Shuakat Khanum Memorial Hospital raised by Mr. Khawaja Asif, PML-N’s whistle-blower in this case.

While everyone was having a go at this issue on twitter, I sent out this tweet: “Dear PMLN, Thank you! Because of you all our donors have suddenly woken up. Sincerely, SKMH Pakistan”

Looking at the response to my tweet, and just giving the whole debacle an afterthought, I realized, PML-N has actually committed a few cardinal PR sins – which ended up in them becoming the bad guys in the public eye. These public relations mistakes are:

1.       Think through about the implication of your words

Mr. Khawaja Asif, you were touching a charity that has over the years helped sick people. The REAL people of Pakistan. With your “Shaukat Khanum funds are used for PTI political purposes” story, what you ended up doing is waking up all those people, and suddenly a counter guerrilla campaign started all around us, where just to tell you Mr. Asif (and PML-N) off – people started sending donations out to the cancer hospital  … err … not the smartest PR move I have seen in recent times!!

Read more:

  • Bina Shah’s blog: Hands off the SKMH
  • Comic Expression by Arsalan

An example of the public outrage

2.       Bad homework is worse than no homework

PML-N obviously did some homework to check the endowment management process followed by Shaukat Khanum, but obviously not enough. From the moment the allegations have been made, we have had even students explaining how erroneous their allegations really are. With the advent of social media, experts are a ‘like’ button away – and no it’s not ok to mislead the people with half-truths or lies.

Read more:

  • Khwaja Asif vs Imran: investor speaks and answers key questions
  • The fallacy of the PML-N’s allegations

Lets donate more to SKMH, say the people of Pakistan!

3.       Are you making news for yourself or the competition?

Smart PR people never deliberately provide others with fresh platforms and story angles. PML-N did just that. Not only did Imran Khan and PTI suddenly have an opportunity for fresh air time on all leading media across Pakistan – Shaukat Khanum too suddenly had a PR edge over all other charities. Plus all other political parties jumped in with their “How could they question the integrity of Shuakat Khunum?”

Why give competitors and others a pulpit of your making?

Read more:

  • Shaukat Khanum COO on Capital Talk, GEO
  • CEO Shaukat Khanum’s responses to PML-N
  • Imran Khan’s press conference
  • Does Islam allow Zakaat to be invested?

4.       Line up brand ambassadors internally and externally

If Khawja Asif actually intended to start a firestorm of such proportions, he should have first lined up third-party ambassadors. Sure, some PTI haters and other PML-N politicians rallied to question the books of Shaukat Khanum too, but that was after the damage had been done.

What has happened as an outcome is PML-N has ended up being the real villain. Not only are the people questioning their ‘good’ deeds as a political party in power, there is a whole bunch of angry Pakistanis who are just plain unhappy with their gall to question Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital.

Epic PR Fail!

Disclaimer:  I am neither a supporter of PTI nor a fan of Imran Khan personally. The views expressed above and shared here are simply from a point of view of a Public Relations professional.

First published on Samra Muslim’s blog on 5 August, 2012. Click here to view the original post.

About the author: Professionally, Samra Muslim has over 10 years of experience of working in Pakistan in the fields of marketing, communications, public relations, social media, event management and brand activation. She is constantly on the hunt for more knowledge and describes herself in the following words: optimist, moody, cynic, travel to live, movie junkie, and foodie. Samra is all over the place and has opinions about everything!