Hong Kong asked the leading PR firms to spin pro-democracy protests. They all said no.

After over a hundred days protests and demonstrations over basic freedoms in Hong Kong, the city has been ground down both emotionally and economically. So, the government there is looking for leading PR firms to rehabilitate its somewhat authoritarian image with the rest of the world. Only one problem, they're all saying no.


Hong Kong protester

It started in June when Hong Kong's legislature, a government that is an ostensibly independent and democratic institution, tried to introduce the now infamous 'extradition bill' that would allow the Chinese government to arrest anyone they wanted, including foreign visitors and journalists, and process them through the judicial system on the mainland. A system infamous for existing mainly to silence political opposition to the Central Committee.



Well, Hong Kong's citizens weren't having it, they took to the streets to make it known that they were not going to be stripped of their essential freedoms and rights without a fight. After almost four months protests where airports, business, mass transport, and many streets were shut down the government took the law off the table. It marked a huge victory not just for Hong Kong but for democratic peoples all over the world.

The protracted ordeal brought a lot of attention to Hong Kong. and a lot of unsurprisingly bad press for the government, some of it given on Upworthy. So, they tried to hire a marketing firm to put a positive spin on the story in the rest of the world.

In a revealing investigative report, The Guardian obtained a 75-page document outlining Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam's project to get celebrated public relations firms to take on the project of image rehabilitation, and it reads like a George Orwell novel came to life and after going to Law School got a job as a marketing executive.

Now they're scrambling to let "people living outside Hong Kong aged 25-45, business persons, investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, opinion leaders, think tanks, government officials, politicians, high-income leisure and business travelers," know that the "one country, two systems" thing is working great and there's absolutely nothing to worry about so please spend and invest your money here!

They even listed the key markets, which include places like Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Japan, and Europe, where the campaign needs to happen. The reason for this is because Hong Kong has always been and remains an interesting nexus between the Chinese communist authorities and the West's democratic, free-market institutions. And the influx of money and business is essential.

But they're having some issue getting anyone to take on the toxic account. In a press conference, reported on by Reuters, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's administrator, said that of the eight firms were approached four said no right off the bat.



One of the companies, Ogilvy, simply gave the excuse that they didn't have enough resources for the project. That had to have hurt. Ogilvy is a huge marketing firm with offices all over the world.

There was also an ad taken out in the Australian Financial Times that tells investors that whatever they're seeing or hearing isn't the whole story, and that no one knows anything really, and basically, Fake News.

They're struggling and it's karma if nothing else. One agency source in a Holmes Report article "If you want an absolutely living, breathing example of why they've got problems, it's to put out a multifaceted RFP while the streets are on fire…It was completely misjudged."

On top of that demonstrations persist in Hong Kong, this time against the myriad of other authoritarianesque laws that have been passed over the last twenty years. So if anything Hong Kong's government has not in any way improved its position with its people or with the rest of the world. We're all still watching and waiting for them to do the right thing.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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