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Ketchum

Russia Specialist Claims Putin’s PR Spend Is a Waste of Money

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Yes, we’re talking about you.

In case you missed it, yesterday Eli Lake of The Daily Beast enlisted a former Russian Federation employee and author who specialized in media relations to explain why all the money the Kremlin spent on reputation advice was a waste.

While Lake vaguely insinuates unflattering things about Ketchum, his source Angus Roxburgh’s main conclusion is that Vladimir Putin does whatever the hell Vladimir Putin wants to do, no matter what his foreign and domestic advisors tell him.

Roxburgh (who was never employed by Ketchum) is something of a Putin expert.

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Putin/Ketchum New York Times Op-Ed Inspires PR Ethics Debate

The fact that Ketchum pitched Vladimir Putin’s controversial New York Times op-ed on Syria isn’t breaking news: We’ve already established, via ProPublica, that Ketchum places pro-Putin op-eds written by “independent businessmen” in publications like The Huffington Post and CNBC. Yet unlike those posts, this one was quite clear in its intentions, and the Times apparently handled it much like any other pitch. Op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal writes:

“I thought it was well-written, well-argued. I don’t agree with many of the points in it, but that is irrelevant.”

Critics pounced immediately, writing that the Times was “aiding and abetting a long-term foe of the United States” by running the op-ed. This is obviously not true, as Times public editor Margaret Sullivan notes that publication is “not an endorsement of [Putin] or his ideas” and that he didn’t get paid. Still, one reader who may or may not be this guy asks why the NYT doesn’t “…take issue with the fact that it was so obviously penned by Putin’s flacks.”

Was it? Putin’s spokesman now claims that the man himself wrote “the basic content” and that his “assistants” fleshed it out—but what about Ketchum?

General consensus calls the successful pitch “a PR coup” for Putin, but it’s led some in the industry to raise ethical issues:

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Ketchum Placed Vladimir Putin’s Controversial New York Times Op-Ed

Vladimir Putin recently took a break from using 90′s R&B to encourage Russians to reproduce in order to pen an op-ed for The New York Times.

In the article, he urges the American people to resist President Obama‘s calls for military action in Syria, writing that a missile strike “will result in more innocent victims and escalation” and even going so far as to claim that the opposition, not “President” Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for recent poison gas attacks that killed more than 1,000 men, women and children. Putin argues that the opposition, who he labels terrorists, killed their own people in order to “provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.”

It’s a heavy charge, and Putin doesn’t shy away from characterizing the United States as an international bully that uses “brute force” to get its way; senators in both parties raced to issue statements about how terrible the article was, and this morning Leon Panetta told Today that it’s all part of Putin’s effort to “weaken” the US.

In the midst of this discussion, BuzzFeed reported—and Times public editor Margaret Sullivan tacitly confirmed—that Ketchum PR pitched the article.

Whatever your thoughts on the op-ed itself or the ethical debates regarding its placement, this is big news. How should the world respond? How should the PR industry respond?

Dads to Brands: We’re Not All Idiots, You Know

Guys with Kids Here’s a universal truth: many marketing and PR campaigns play on gender stereotypes. Two of the more popular tropes are “girls only like girly things” and “all dads are bumbling idiots.”

Things are changing, though–slowly but surely. Fathers, like mothers, are a little tired of being portrayed via dumb cliches, and they’re responding quite well to campaigns that feel targeted to them rather than their “nagging wives.”

At a recent “daddy blogger” conference in Houston, brands asked dads: “What do you guys want?” Their answer: we want to be treated as equals and competent parents, not mocked as clueless oafs who barely know how to use a microwave.

Dove Men+Care is one of the most prominent brands spearheading this trend by recruiting such “guy’s guy” dads as Shaquille O’Neal and a conveniently handsome “nonactor”/firefighter to let dads aged 35 to 44 know that it’s OK to use a facial scrub and a moisturizer.

As Jason Lin, VP and digital strategist at Ketchum PR, told The New York Times: ““The payoff is huge if you get dads right.” Can we think of brands beyond Dove that are getting dads right?

Ketchum’s Rob Flaherty: ‘Our Business is All About Change’

The press release announcing the leadership changes at Ketchum described the appointments as part of a transition for the company. But if you ask the firm’s top two execs, change is always and ongoing.

“Our business is all about change, so if you’re not changing you’re not moving a service firm of any kind forward,” the soon-to-be CEO Rob Flaherty told us on the phone today. “I think a good service firm develops a percentage of their services as new services every year.”

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Flaherty Named Ketchum CEO; Kotcher Appointed Chairman

Ketchum has announced leadership changes right at the top of the organization. As of July 1, Rob Flaherty, senior partner and president, will also become CEO of Ketchum. And Ray Kotcher, currently the CEO and senior partner, will be named chairman. The move is part of a planned leadership transition, with Flaherty continuing to report to Kotcher once they assume their new roles.

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Survey Finds Leaders Are Falling Short

The Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor finds that people around the world are disappointed with leaders across business, politics, and religious organizations.

The research, conducted across 12 countries with more than 3,750 respondents, found that 31 percent of people think leadership will get worse this year. And only 25 percent think politicians and religious leaders provide excellent leadership.

The bright spot in the research was in the area of business leadership, particularly technology business leadership. Nearly half (44 percent) said tech business leaders were effective. Next came media leaders with 39 percent and telecommunications leaders (36 percent).

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Ketchum’s Fitzgerald Named EVP, China

Ketchum‘s Sean Fitzgerald has been named EVP in China and director of the firm’s Shanghai office. The job also comes with responsibility for the Beijing and Guangzhou operations. Fitzgerald is currently partner and MD of Ketchum West. He will relocate to Shanghai in January.

Dave Chapman, who is a partner and director for Ketchum West now, will take up the vacant MD position, managing the operations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Ketchum announced that it was taking a majority stake in its China operations in January of this year. Fitzgerald will report to Kenneth Chu, partner and CEO, and Jon Higgins, the firm’s senior partner and CEO of international operations.

Bartholomew Joins Ketchum

Don Bartholomew joined Ketchum as SVP of digital and social media research yesterday. Bartholomew was most recently at Fleishman-Hillard’s Washington D.C. office where he managed integrated digital research like social media monitoring and measurement.

In this new role, he’ll manage the Ketchum Global Research Network (KGRN) operations in Ketchum South and Ketchum Midwest, and work with Ketchum Digital, Zócalo Group, the company’s word-of-mouth agency, and Access Communications, which specializes in high-tech and consumer PR.

Bartholomew is also the blogger behind MetricsMan.

Penn State Hires Ketchum

Photo: Pennsylvania Attorney General Office via AP

Penn State’s Board of Trustees has hired Ketchum to handle crisis comms, Ad Age reports. The hire was made on November 6, the day after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested. The firm has already helped with the press conference announcing that coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were leaving their positions.

According to Ad Age, Ketchum has about 50 crisis experts in the U.S.

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