The Case of the Mysterious E-mails

When the Washington Post tried to contact 60 people who were listed as having "sent e-mails to the Federal Communications Commission opposing the proposed merger between the satellite radio networks XM and Sirius," the paper found "mostly unanswered phone calls and recordings saying the phones were disconnect


Amgen Website Invites Testimonials, Posts Off-Label Claims By Patients

This screenshot from the "Protect Cancer Patients" website shows what it looked like before "The Cancer Letter" exposed its solicitation and publication of patient testimonials without proper scientific evidence to support them. The company has subsequently removed the testimonials.To mobilize elderly Americans in an effort to overturn the new Medicare coverage policy for erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs, which boost red blood cell production), Amgen Inc. appears to have borrowed a strategy from the purveyors of alternative medicine.

The company launched a "Protect Cancer Patients" website, where visitors were invited to submit testimonials about the healing powers of ESAs. Also, they could contact members of Congress, or review the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services coverage decision and the House and Senate resolutions to vacate it.

Though the Internet designation ".org" suggests that the site is operated by an advocacy group, the "privacy policy" section notes that "this site is owned and operated by Amgen Inc." and can be used for communications with the company.

On the home page, the site is described as "online headquarters of a national campaign to protect cancer patients on Medicare from a decision denying them ... coverage for needed medicines."

"Amgen's mission is to serve patients, which is why we openly support the Protect Cancer Patients website," Kelley Davenport, an Amgen spokesman, said in an email. "The site educates cancer patients on Medicare and their caregivers about a Medicare policy that impacts cancer patients, so that their voices and concerns are heard by government policymakers.

Wired's Game of Whack-a-Flack

Some public relations people are in an uproar after Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson published online the email addresses of 329 PR people who have sent him unsolicited email messages. "I've had it," he wrote on his blog. "I get more than 300 e-mails a day and my problem isn't spam. ... it's P.R.


Karen Hughes Bids Adieu No. Deux

Karen Hughes in IndonesiaU.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes is leaving the Bush administration. Hughes, a long-time confidant of President Bush's, served as a counselor during Bush's first term, then officially left the White House in 2002, only to return as the nation's PR czar in 2005. Her last day will be in December. In announcing her resignation, Hughes stressed that improving the U.S.'s image around the world is a "long-term challenge." At the State Department, Hughes increased the number of "interviews with Arabic media," and "set up three rapid public relations response centers overseas to monitor and respond to the news. She nearly doubled the public diplomacy budget, to nearly $900m annually, and sent U.S. sports stars Michelle Kwan and Cal Ripken abroad as unofficial diplomats. But polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since she took over. A Pew Research survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of America in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75% in 2000 to 30% last year." Hughes' key deputy, Dina Habib Powell, left the State Department earlier this year, "to become director of global corporate engagement for Goldman Sachs Group," notes PR Week.


California TV Station Caught Pimping

Sacramento television station KCRA recently aired a "Problem Solvers" news segment where "Lynsey Paulo, a multiple regional-Emmy winner, looked at 'search engine fatigue' among online users. The report quoted three consumers, an expert from UCLA and an executive from, which provides targeted-search results.


Ambassadors Needed for McDonaldLand

McDonald's Golden ArchesMcDonald's director of U.S. marketing admits, "Going by what we're hearing from consumers, awareness is a little bit low about quality." So the fast food giant will launch a "McDonald's Brand Advocate program" in early 2008, with help from the PR firm GolinHarris.



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