Public Relations

The Ultimate Irony: Health Care Industry Adopts Big Tobacco's PR Tactics

At first look, one might not think that the health insurance industry has much in common with the tobacco industry. After all, one sells a product that kills people and the other sells a product nominally aimed at putting people back together. But when it comes to deceitful public relations techniques, the health insurance industry has been learning well from Big Tobacco, which employed a panoply of shady but highly successful public relations tactics to fend off changes to its business for generations.

One of the things I said in my testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on June 24 is that the health insurance industry engages in duplicitous public relations campaigns to influence public opinion and the debate on health care reform. By that I mean there are campaigns they want you to you know about, and those they don't.

When you hear insurance company executives talk about how much they support health care reform and can be counted on by the President and Congress to be there for them, that's the campaign they want you to be aware of. I call it their PR charm offensive.

"Harry and Louise" Against Consumer Protection

The industry backlash against the Obama administration's financial reform plans -- especially the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- is taking shape. "A coalition of financial trade groups is brainstorming on how to sink the agency," reports Reuters.

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Prying Doors Open at The Economist

"The Economist," bemoans Andy Rowlands, the director of corporate, issues and technology practice at the public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, "is one of the most influential, but also most difficult places to secure coverage." The former head of PR for the London-based magazine (now a PR consultant), Eileen Wise, suggests that persistence pays off.

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CMD's Wendell Potter Exposes Health Insurance PR

Wendell Potter came to the Center for Media and Democracy in May as an admirer of our work exposing corporate front groups, lobbyists and PR manipulators. He should know, he was one of the best PR executives in the health insurance business, CIGNA's Vice President of Corporate Communications until he had a major change of heart.

Today Wendell is CMD's Senior Fellow on Health Care, testifying before the US Senate Commerce Committee. His passion is health care reform and his expertise is exposing how the powerful industry he once helped run is manipulating and managing the health care reform debate raging among policy makers, the public and in the media.

More Messaging for the Earth

At the launch of a public relations and marketing campaign in support of the United Nations' upcoming climate change conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, "We need a global movement that mobilizes real change." The UN's COP15 conference will be held in Copenhage

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Kremlin Comrades Crave Kinder Coverage

In May, the Russian government "created a high-level commission to overhaul its image on the world stage as the first anniversary of Russia's war with Georgia approaches." The commission is chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshikin, "underscoring how serious the Kremlin considers the problem, which it often blames on shadowy external enemies and ill-wishers," reports the Wall Street Journal.

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