Saudi Arabia, which hired Burson-Marsteller three days following the September 11 terror attacks, has signed up another PR firm to help manage its image in the United States. Qorvis Communications, headed by former Shandwick North America CEO Michael Petruzzello, will do polling and Congressional lobbying.
PR Week reports that U.S. undersecretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy Charlotte Beers has unveiled her strategy for "telling America's story to overseas audiences, particularly in Muslim countries." Contrary to earlier reports, the campaign does not emphasize advertising.
The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has hired Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to help position the pharmaceutical industry as a "leading source of information to the public" on the issue of bioterrorism. For the other side of the story, check out what Corpwatch.org has to say about wartime profiteering by drug companies and the controversy on patented drugs which started when the first signs of anthrax attacks appeared in the US.
PR has a vital role to play in promoting economic globalization and fighting terrorism, according to the latest issue of The Holmes Report, a public relations industry trade newsletter. Holmes cites the musings of Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick Worldwide and a past executive with the Sawyer Miller Group (whose role in explaining away the Colombian government's involvement with drug traffickers is detailed our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You).
Faced by controversy regarding its links to the bin Laden family and high-ranking government officials, the Carlyle Group has has named Chris Ullman, a former official with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, as its vice president for corporate communications.
The PR industry is in dire need of PR help itself, according to industry leaders. Even before September 11, American PR firms "were looking at their first year of negative growth, slashing staff and shuttering offices as an economic slump wiped out clients and accounts," reports Andrew Quinn. According to Alan Kelly of a high-tech public relations firm in San Francisco, "We've swung from a media Camelot to what one of my colleagues has termed 'Death Valley.' "
The United States is engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity and presidential speeches designed to rally support for the war, which has begun to slip internationally. Even in Britain, America's most reliable ally, support for war has fallen from around three-quarters to two-thirds. And in the Muslim world, observes the Economist, "The burden of proof has shifted: America is being asked to prove it is not waging war against Islam."
Public health scientists Samet and Burke issue a strong warning in the current American Journal of Public Health about "the tobacco industry's attempt to discredit the scientific evidence on passive smoking, particularly the industry's use of the label 'junk science.' ... Unfortunately, 'junk science' has now become an ingrained pejorative. The public health community will need to be watchful in other arenas where the "junk science" gambit will be used. ... Trust Us We're Experts offer(s) a popular and cautionary account.... The lessons learned from this episode ...
An Australian public relations company working for the pharmaceutical industry has been accused of running a secretive dirty tricks campaign to discredit an industry critic. Sydney-based Susan Andrews Communications Group, which helped promote arthritis pill Celebrex for Pfizer and Pharmacia, was named in last week's Medical Observer magazine as the source of leaked documents attempting to smear former Government drug adviser Professor David Henry.
The Bush administration is launching a major PR offensive this week to sell its Afghanistan bombing campaign to Muslims, and top US PR coordinator Charlotte Beers is working on a TV and advertising campaign to be aired abroad that "could feature American celebrities." However, the US is already tripping over mixed messages, preparing the citizenry at home for a long bloody conflict, while Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld assures foreign leaders and media that the war "might be over in a matter of months," just what they want to hear.