Andersen Holds "Spontaneous" PR Stunt

A flashy publicity stunt outside a Houston federal courthouse accompanied accounting firm Arthur Andersen's not guilty plea to Justice Department obstruction charges. "As Andersen pleaded not guilty inside the courtroom, outside the firm launched a public relations blitz designed to portray government prosecutors as overzealous and heartless to the plight of its 28,000 U.S. employees," USA Today's Greg Farrell reports. "Employees waving signs and wearing T-shirts that said 'I am Arthur Andersen' trooped outside the Houston courthouse, while the Chicago-based firm pleaded its case in full-page newspaper ads. ... Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton says the rallies were not orchestrated but were 'a spontaneous outpouring of emotion from innocent people who feel they've been unfairly tarnished by this indictment.'" O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes, "Employees have held protest rallies in Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, D.C. ... Julie Hallinan, an Andersen spokesperson, promised this website she would look into whether the auditor's PR firms--Omnicom's Ketchum and Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Assocs.--had anything to do with outfitting the workers in those shirts, or arranging to have the signs made."