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.
As the current Bush administration gears up for a second war with Iraq, now would be a good time to refresh our memories about the PR campaign used to sell the first war to the American people. In our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, we showed how the first Bush administration collaborated with the Hill & Knowlton PR firm to peddle a false story about "babies removed from incubators by Iraqi soldiers," which helped swell public outrage against Saddam Hussein.
"The United States, faced with a survey by diplomats showing widespread foreign skepticism about their motives, is planning a public relations offensive to build international support among foreign opinion leaders for a war against Iraq," reports UPI correspondent Eli Lake. The Iraq Public Diplomacy Group, "which includes representatives from the CIA, National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development," plans to publish a brochure and hold interactive teleconferences targeting "opinion leaders" in Europe and the Middle East.
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.
"After more than five decades of relying on advertising for its recruitment efforts, the Marine Corps has decided to let PR pros take a shot at finding them a few good men," PR Week reports in a front page story. Longtime Marine advertising agency J. Walter Thompson recruited sister company Hill & Knowlton to join in on a bid for the five-year, $200 million contract. Having won the account in July, the campaign details are still being worked out.
"Public relations firms giving advice on corporate ethics? That sounds like a plot line straight out of a movie by Woody Allen," Jeff Barge, president of Lucky Star Public Relations, wrote in a July 30 Wall St. Journal letter-to-the-editor. Quoting Barges remarks, Paul Holmes, editor of the Holmes Reports, reflects on PR's role in ethical corporate policy making.
"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.