"The Saudi government has spent millions of dollars on well-connected lobbyists and national television advertisements since Sept. 11 in a drive to improve its image among Americans and is poised to spend more as the anniversary of the events approaches," The New York Times' Christopher Marquis reports. "In all, the Saudis have hired several public relations firms and have already spent more than $5 million, according to new Justice Department filings.
PR wheeler-dealer Ian Kortlang has become the new chief of Burson-Marsteller's Australian office, ousting CEO Varina Nissen. Kortlang has a reputation for backstabbing former clients, such as a local Australian winery that he represented before switching sides to represent its adversary, a well-heeled multinational corporation, in a bitter business dispute.
The American Jewish Committee is sponsoring a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign to "bolster support" for Israel in the U.S. O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports, "The pro-Israel ad campaign will position the country as a beacon of freedom in a rough area of the world. It also will argue that Israel is committed to the peace process, having already signed agreements with former adversaries Egypt and Jordan.
A fundraising letter from the Liberal Party in British Columbia, Canada, is "inviting people who work in public relations to donate $10,000 apiece at the same time that the provincial government is assessing contract proposals from the industry," reports the Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers. In addition to making direct cash donations, the letter invites PR firms to "build a fund-raising effort around an event or two -- events where we can invite clients or others for an intimate lunch or dinner with a key cabinet minister."
"For some time now, I have been receiving small gifts from a generous institute in the United States. The gifts are high-quality translations of articles from Arabic newspapers which the institute sends to me by email every few days, entirely free-of-charge," the Guardian's Brian Whitaker writes. The emails come from the Washington DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
"Saudi Arabia should stop its 'PR drivel' in the U.S., and flat out explain to the American people that serious issues exist between the Kingdom and the U.S., according to Khaled Al-Maeena, editor-in-chief of Arab News, the Kingdom's English-language paper," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "He urges Saudi Arabia to 'abandon those fancy public relations firms whose own executives look at us unfavorably, but are doing the job for the dollars.'" Saudi Arabia's PR firm, Qorvis Communications, receives $200,000 a month for its work.
"U.S. Public Diplomacy chief Charlotte Beers' approach to generating goodwill and understanding for America and Americans in the Muslim and Arab world is remarkably -- even astonishingly--naive and ignorant," writes David Gaier in a guest commentary for O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Gaier is a former U.S. Marine, ex-Special Agent with the U.S.Department of State, and PR veteran, who has spent much time in the Middle East.
El Salvador has hired PR giant Fleishman Hillard to promote the country internationally encourage foreign investment reports PR Week. The campaign, "El Salvador Works," seeks to double the rate of foreign capital by 2004. In the past two years, foreign countries have sunk $500 million into El Salvador, with about 60% coming from the US. Fleishman Hillard highlight the country's low interest rate and "open economy" as selling points to international investors.
David Corn critiques Congressman Henry Hyde's notion that Hollywood and Madison Avenue can razzle-dazzle those pesky foreigners who don't like America. "This is ridiculous. Hollywood pushes escapist fiction, and advertising firms try to hornswoggle people into believing they can get laid if they purchase the right car, the right toothpaste, the right beer, or the right cigarette," Corn writes. "But the poohbahs of U.S.
The Bush administration has decided to create a permanent, fully staffed "Office of Global Communications" to "coordinate the administration's foreign policy message and supervise America's image abroad, according to senior officials," writes Karen DeYoung. The office will allow the White House "to exert more control over what has become one of the hottest areas of government and private-sector initiatives since Sept. 11.