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More than £400,000 was spent by the Welsh Assembly Government on external public relations firms in a year, BBC News reported. The Assembly Government used external PR aid from April 2009 to March 2010, despite the fact that it already employs 25 full-time communication experts it its press office. According to the BBC News report, the PR aid hired by the Welsh Assembly Government was different from what the press office usually deals with.

The companies employed by the assembly government were not named in the report, but the exact amount spent on external PR has been disclosed, as a result of a Freedom of Information request £400,123. The explanation was that external PR companies were hired to “support communications to the Welsh public on a wide variety of government policies, including campaigns on issues such as anti-bullying.”

As PR professionals, we obviously know the value of good PR, however, there are some valid questions raised by Conservative finance spokesman Nick Ramsay. First, with 25 PR and communication experts already in the press office, more spending on PR is hardly justified. Second, families cutting their budgets would be “disappointed to see the assembly government spending such vast sums blowing its own trumpet” – Ramsay said in a statement cited by BBC.

The Welsh Assembly Government defended its position: “campaigns supported by PR companies include the Climate Change Champions and skillscymru – the largest careers and skills event ever held in Wales. Work is commissioned on a case-by-case basis and carefully evaluated to ensure value for money.”

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