Public Relations

Arctic Power Sees Conflict With Saudi Arabia, Drops PR Firm

Arctic Power, a lobbying organization that promotes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has ended its $4-million account with Qorvis Communication reports PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Arctic Power says there is a conflict of interest since Qorvis also is working for Saudi Arabia. One of Arctic Power's key arguments for opening ANWR to oil drilling is that it would reduce US dependence on foreign oil, particularly Middle-Eastern oil. The US is Saudi Arabia's second top export market.

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Shandwick's Anti-Green PR Backfires, Big Time

As of April first, 130,000 hectares of rainforests have been added to New Zealand's National Parks and conservation reserves, thanks to the the unravelling and demise of a devious pro-logging PR campaign run by a government-owned company, Timberlands, and its PR adviser, Shandwick New Zealand. In 1999 a whistleblower leaked hundreds of pages of internal Shandwick documents which formed the basis for the shocking exposé Secrets and Lies: The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR Campaign by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton.

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The Other War Room

George Bush likes to insist that he governs "based upon principle and not polls and focus groups." In reality, writes Joshua Green, "the Bush administration is a frequent consumer of polls, though it takes extraordinary measures to appear that it isn't." In 2001, the administration spent close to $1 million for polling, using political advisors like Jan van Lohuizen and his focus-group guru, Fred Steeper. "Policies are chosen beforehand, polls used to spin them.

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Media Rely Increasingly on Spokespeople

The media's use of spokespeople as primary news sources has increased 81% between 1995 and 2000 according to a study by Bob Williams, an ethics fellow at the Poynter Institute. "As a reporter, you look around the newsroom, and the tendency has become to talk to spokespeople rather than to even try to get to the principals," Williams told PR Week. Council of PR Firms president Kathy Cripps suggests reporters and editors sit down with their PR contacts for interviews as a way to improve the relationship between the media and PR practitioners.

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Saudi Arabia Pays Qorvis $200,000-a-Month For PR

"Saudi Arabia is paying Qorvis Communications a $200,000 monthly retainer, according to Scott Warner, spokesman for the Washington, D.C., firm that is affiliated with Patton Boggs," O'Dwyer's PR reports. "The firm is handling PA [public affairs] and media relations for the Kingdom, which has stepped into the spotlight following release of its so-called Middle East peace plan that Crown Prince Abdullah announced to New York Times foreign affairs op-ed writer Tom Friedman in February."

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Memo Reveals Ralph Reed's PR / Lobby Plan for Enron

"Just before the last presidential election, Bush campaign adviser Ralph Reed offered to help Enron Corp. deregulate the electricity industry by working his 'good friends' in Washington and by mobilizing religious leaders and pro-family groups for the cause. For a $380,000 fee, the conservative political strategist proposed a broad lobbying strategy that included using major campaign contributors, conservative talk shows and nonprofits to press Congress for favorable legislation.

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Saudi Arabia's Expanding PR Arsenal

PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports there is yet another firm representing Saudi Arabia. In addition to Burson-Marstellar, Qorvis Communications, and Patton Boggs, the Kingdom is using The Gallagher Group in its public affairs and lobbying campaign. The firm was hired by Qorvis, the Saudi's media relations firm, to do "government relations" work. O'Dwyer's reports the firm's president James Gallagher expects the $20,000 contract, which covered work between November 15 and February 15, to be renewed.

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Medical Journals Haunted by PR Ghostwriters

"Scientists are accepting large sums of money from drug companies to put their names to articles endorsing new medicines that they have not written - a growing practice that some fear is putting scientific integrity in jeopardy," reports Sarah Bosely, health editor of the Guardian.

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Flacking for the Saudis

Saudi Arabia is paying $100,000 to Patton Boggs, an affiliate of Qorvis Communications, to lobby on its behalf in the U.S. Congress. According to Kevin McCauley, editor of O'Dwyer's PR Daily, the Saudis have been getting "PR fit for a King (or at least a Prince)" lately, notwithstanding their complaints that they are victims of a "savage media campaign" in the West.

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