Public Relations

Consultants Rush in to Help Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, MoscowThe public relations firm Ketchum, which "works with the highest levels of Russia's Government and the state-owned energy monopoly Gazprom," has hired the Alston & Bird lobby firm to work on the account. The lobby firm "of former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Tom Daschle will deal with trade, energy, economic and politico-military issues at a $35K-a-month rate," at least through the end of May 2009, reports O'Dwyer's. Russia paid Ketchum $2.9 million from August 2008 to January 2009. The PR firm helped Russia finesse its invasion of Georgia in August 2008 and its cutting off natural gas supplies to Ukraine. The firm secured a CNN interview for Vladimir Putin, "coordinated President Dmitry Medvedev's Council on Foreign Relations event (in November 2008), organized a meeting for Washington reporters with Kremlin spokesperson Alexey Pavlov and arranged a Wall Street Journal meeting with Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev." Previously, Ketchum placed Russia-themed paid supplements in the Washington Post and helped Putin become Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2007.

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Developer's Casino in a Velvet Glove

J. Scott Trubey reports that documents, obtained under Georgia's freedom of information laws, revealed that Fleishman-Hillard (F-H) had been hired by Georgia Lottery to sell the concept of the state's first casino to legislators, business leaders and the public. Underground Atlanta, a shopping complex, was mentioned as a possible site for the introduction of a casino.

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Why Blago Blitzed

There was a method behind now-former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's decision to skip most of his impeachment trial and go on the talk show circuit, writes PR Week. "PR pros know," the magazine wrote, "that Blagojevich's goal likely wasn't to retain his seat as governor, but to defend his reputation and prepare for his next objective.

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Deadly Deception: The Tobacco Industry's Secondhand Smoke Cover Up

SmokingMany of the of the tobacco industry's underhanded strategies and tactics have been exposed, thanks to landmark legal cases and the hard work of public health advocates. But we are still uncovering the shocking lengths to which the industry has gone to protect itself from public health measures like smoking bans. Now we can thank the city of Pueblo, Colorado, for an opportunity to look a little bit deeper into how the industry managed the deadly deceptions around secondhand smoke.

A new study, now the ninth of its type and the most comprehensive one yet, has shown a major reduction in hospital admissions for heart attacks after a smoke-free law was put into effect.

On July 1, 2003, the relatively isolated city of Pueblo, Colorado enacted an ordinance that prohibited smoking in workplaces and indoor public areas, including bars and restaurants. For the study, researchers reviewed hospital admissions for heart attacks among area residents for one year prior to, and three years after the ban, and compared the data to two other nearby areas that didn't have bans (the part of Pueblo County outside city limits, and El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs). Researchers found that during the three years after the ban, hospital admissions for heart attacks dropped 41 percent inside the city of Pueblo, but found no significant change in admissions for heart attacks in the other two control areas.

Eight studies done prior to this one in other locales used similar techniques and yielded similar results, but covered shorter periods of time -- usually about one year after the smoking ban went into effect. The results of this longer, more comprehensive study support the view that not only does secondhand smoke have a significant short-term impact on heart function, but that lives, and money, are probably being saved by new laws proliferating around the world in recent years that minimize public exposure to secondhand smoke.

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