Public Relations

Australian Police Unspun

After pleading guilty to counts of perjury and three of disclosing a confidential hearing, the former media director for Australia's Victoria Police, Stephen Linnell, has been fined $A5,000 and sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years. Linnell, a former journalist, became a friend of the then-assistant commissioner, Noel Ashby, after being appointed media director in 2003. In May 2007, Ashby was a suspect in an investigation by the Office of Police Integrity (OPI) into the leaking of confidential information.

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Wal-Mart Buys PR in Bulk

Wal-Mart Stores plans to hire a few outside public relations firms to develop "fresh, emotional PR programming" promoting its grocery, health, clothing, home, hardware, auto and entertainment products, along with Wal-Mart's events, financial services and website. Edelman, which has been Wal-Mart's main PR firm for three years, is among the five or six finalists for the major account.

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Before Blackwater Had Xe, PM Had NewCo

First of all, we want our name changed from 'cockroach' to 'companion beetle.'After years of bad press over no-bid contracts and massacres of Iraqi civilians, the private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide has changed its name to the cryptic "Xe" (pronounced "Zee"). In an eerily similar move, disgraced sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide announced that its new name is the smooth-sounding "Bank of America Home Loans." Rounding out the triumvirate of chameleons, Baghdad's Abu Ghraib Prison, made infamous worldwide for the torture and abuses perpetrated inside its walls by both Saddam Hussein and the U.S. government, is changing its name to "Baghdad Central Prison."

PR Firms Pay for Video Play Online

Fake news isn't just for TV newscasts anymore. "The Web's evolving ability to tap niche audiences is expanding the scope of guaranteed placement," or paying to place PR videos. "For our Web distribution, we guarantee placement on major news sites, including Google News [and] MSN," explained PR executive Doug Simon.

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