BP, now officially responsible for the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history, has hired former Vice President Dick Cheney's campaign press secretary, Anne Womack-Kolton, to head its American public relations efforts. Womack is a former employee of the PR firm APCO Worldwide, perhaps best known for its work on behalf of the tobacco industry. In 1995, Philip Morris hired APCO to orchestrate a massive national "tort reform" movement, and in 1993, PM hired APCO to organize the front group The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition to attack the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after it rated secondhand smoke a Group A Human Carcinogen, the same rating the agency gives asbestos and radon gas. Womack also served as a White House spokesperson, defending Bush's White House Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives. In announcing Womack-Kolton's hiring, BP only mentioned that she had been director of public affairs for the Department of Energy (DOE) under George W. Bush, but a DOE press release boasts about her links to Cheney.
Big food companies are using well-established public relations techniques to fight bad publicity over the high salt content in processed foods, employing strategies developed earl
Last year, the Obama administration announced nearly $1.2 billion in grants to help hospitals and health care providers implement and use electronic health records, but the proposal has faced stiff resistance from skeptics who doubt whether such a system can adequately protect patient privacy. To overcome this obstacle, the U.S.
Independent journalists in Australia studied 2,203 news stories in ten different hard-copy Australian newspapers over a five day work week and found that nearly 55 percent of the stories analyzed were driven by some form of public relations. The most extreme paper was the Daily Telegraph, in which 70% of stories were triggered by some form of PR. The Sydney Morning Herald was the best at "only" 42 percent PR-driven stories.
As state and local governments consider taxing soda and sugary drinks to raise money and address the national obesity epidemic, manufacturers of sugary drinks -- like countless other industries -- are taking PR cues from the tobacco industry to defeat the initiatives. The PR tactics they are using are starting to be old hat. By now, everyone should be able to spot them, but just in case you're not up to speed on your corporate PR literacy, here's what to look for:
Step One: Position your product as the solution, not the problem
Coca Cola, Pepsico and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group are running print and TV ads promoting their joint initiative to remove full-calorie, artificially-sweetened drinks from schools. At the same time, Americans Against Food Taxes, the front group for the sugary drink manufacturers, is sending out emails boasting that soda companies have replaced full-calorie soft drinks with "smaller-portion" and "portion-controlled" beverages, real juice and bottled water in schools. Voila'! Their products are no longer the problem, they are part of the solution. Even better, now they'll get kids to buy more bottled water -- which costs them next to nothing to make -- at a dollar a bottle. Score!
Nutrition experts are battling sugar industry trade groups over over public information about the health hazards of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other caloric sweeteners. Nutrition experts say that the sweeteners added to soft drinks and countless other foods and beverages increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and promote weight gain by adding empty calories to the average diet.
Even before a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision blew the lid off corporate campaign spending, it was clear that the big banks would be key players in the 2010 election cycle. Unemployment will remain high, and so will resentment against the banks -- a volatile combination that will encourage savvy members of Congress to continue to fight for meaningful reform of the financial sector.