Of the many issues facing the White House communications staff, PR Week asked a few experts to sound off on how the media's treatment of President Bush's daughters should be handled. Here's what they had to say:
The National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful Washington lobbying organizations, is seeking a new communications director to replace out-going flack Bill Powers. Applicants for the job -- called the third-most hellish PR job by PR Week readers -- would look forward to handling PR for NRA president Charlton Heston and to presiding over one of the largest stockpiles of PR dollars. The group spent $100 million on PR and advertising last year. Former communications director Powers left the NRA to join The Mercury Group, the PR agency of record for the NRA.
Dalia Rabin-Pelossof will head a $12 million public relations offensive to argue Israel's case amid fears that Palestinians are winning the propaganda war. Her father, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in retaliation for signing the 1993 peace accords. PR advisors to Israel include Gideon Meir, Israel's deputy minister of public affairs, and the New York-based PR firm of Rubenstein & Associates.
Last year Michael Jacobson's Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI, also known as "the food police") received $200,000 from the pro-biotechnology Rockefeller Foundation to be a moderate voice in the raging debate over genetically engineered (GE) foods. CSPI has since made many statements very favorable to GE foods and recently called for government action against companies marketing non-GE foods. Ironically, CSPI's Integrity in Science Project criticizes and reveals the special interest funding and agendas of other nonprofit organizations.
BSMG Worldwide is representing the Movement for Democratic Change, a political party which is trying to oust Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe. The MDC, according to the Aug. 7 New York Times, is the "first party in two decades to pose a serious threat to Mugabe's grip on power." Zimbabwe currently is faced with serious economic problems, which Mugabe blames on the country's 75,000 white farmers and their supposed Western backers. He has supported actions by the National War Veterans Association, whose members have seized and squatted on more than 1,700 white-owned farms.
The Hill and Knowlton PR firm is receiving $500,000 from Hong Kong to persuade skittish Americans and U.S. policymakers that the city retains a "high degree of autonomy" under China's rule.
In the wake of the dot-com meltdown, PR people are asking themselves, "what can PR do now that the IPOs have dried up? Where's the story?" This roundtable featured PR experts with answers like the following:
No public relations agency in America benefited more from the Internet boom than Middleberg & Associates. By the year 2000, Middleberg had established itself as the authority on online media relations, but the dot-com meltdown also means leaner times for its PR firms. Last week, agency founder Don Middleberg closed the firm
The government of Ecuador is paying $180,000 to Burson-Marsteller.
Now that Philip Morris has apologized for its role in commissioning a report claiming that the Czech Republic benefits from the premature deaths of smokers, the August 6 issue of PR Week asked PR pros, "How can Philip Morris regain PR ground following the publication of the Czech report?" Advice from the experts included: