The Columbia Journalism Review has published a largely uncritical story about Adrianne Foglia, a former NBC news producer who now serves as press aide to Colombian President Andres Pastrana. CJR notes that Foglia has been hugely successful at influencing news coverage of Colombia: "One Foglia assistant said the office organized upwards of 80 percent of visiting journalists' agendas," which in turn has helped win foreign support such as a $1.3 billion U.S. aid package for Colombia. (More aid is bound to follow, now that U.S.
The Pentagon has hired the Rendon Group, a well-known Washington public-relations firm, to help it explain U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan to global audiences. Rendon will be paid $397,000 over the next four months to monitor news media in 79 countries, conduct focus groups and create a counterterrorism Web site. Rendon's help is needed because "we are clearly losing the 'hearts and minds' issue," said one official involved in the administration spin effort.
Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy had a queasy feeling as she watched President Bush with D.C. school children promoting his newly created America's Fund for Afghan Children. "I get nervous when public officials trot out the children. What president whose country is involved in a dicey war, what mayor whose approval rating is down doesn't look good when flanked by a group of earnest and trusting kids?" McCarthy writes. "The children's fund is pure public relations.
The UK Independent reports, "A senior government 'spin-doctor' was under pressure to resign after seeking to take advantage of the terrorist atrocities in America to 'bury' embarrassing stories." An adviser to the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions sent a memo to senior colleagues saying, "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?" The memo was sent within an hour of the second hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center. On September 12, a proposal on new expenses for local councillors was released.
O'Dwyer's PR Daily columnist Frasier Seitel writes, "In the war on terrorism, PR is key. And in the coming days, as they wend through the shadowy thicket of Bin Ladenesque aggressors, President Bush and his associates might consider the following prescription for wartime PR strategy." Seitel's prescription includes the following points: build grassroots support; lead with goodwill; communicate, communicate communicate; and don't play fast and loose with the truth. Seitel says the last point poses a critical PR question for the Bush administration.
Saudi Arabia hired PR giant Burson-Marsteller on September 14 according to O'Dwyer's PR Daily. B-M will place ads and provide "issues counseling and crisis management" the Saudi government. Craig Veith, chairman of B-M's media practice in Washington, D.C., said B-M has placed ads for the Saudis in The New York Times expressing support for the U.S. in its time of crisis.
Peace Action is no new kid on the block. This very serious and well established group dates back forty years to the 'ban the bomb' movement of the 1960s, and led the fight in the 1980s against Ronald Reagan's nuclear build-up. Now, it tackles the current crisis in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Environmental activist and college instructor Adrienne Anderson has been the victim of an "outrageous" defamation campaign at the hands of the PR department of Colorado's largest sewage plant, and a judge has hit the plant with a $450,000 damage award. According to the Denver Post, the judge has ordered the sewage district "to publicly apologize in a full page ad." The Post notes that the judge "singled out Metro's public relations director Steven M.
A New Jersey Sikh group has hired MWW Group to launch a national PR campaign to educate Americans about the religion that was founded in India more than 500 years ago. There has been at least one hate-based killing of a Sikh and many other reported hate crimes against Sikhs in the aftermath of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. There are 400,000 Sikhs living in North America.
The Air Transport Association, which represents air carriers, hired PR giant Burson-Marsteller to develop issue ads in support of the group's lobbying activities. ATA is seeking from Congress a $17.5 billion rescue package consisting of cash and loan guarantees for the airline industry, in the wake of its collapse following last week's attacks. Airlines are said to be losing $200 million a day because of disruptions in air traffic and the public's general unwillingness to fly.