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Posts Tagged ‘Ketchum’

Journo’s PBS Op-Ed Laments ‘the Growing Power of Publicists’

Not the guy.Disclaimer: If you’ve already read too many “journalists vs. PR” stories this week, then you might want to skip this one. Our bad.

PBS Mediashift contributor/John Jay College associate professor of English Devin Harner offered a reassessment of last month’s biggest PR story this week, and his comments on the Putin/Ketchum debate are worth reading in a “taking your vitamins” way. He sees our era as one in which the publicist has a growing power to shape the media narrative, and he’s not too happy about it. Here are some more of his more sobering takeaways:

“When I was in college, PR was a dirty word. So much so that one of my mentors, Dr. Jackson, would make fun of PR majors on the first day of class, before encouraging those of them who were competent to come over from the dark side, see the light, and work for the good guys.”

That’s not a fair take, but it shows us (as if we needed any more evidence) that this push-and-pull is nothing new and that it starts early.

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Spin the Agencies of Record

Doesn't sound like jazz to me.“One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” – Lou Reed

Workhouse Public Relations has been chosen as the PR/marketing AOR for Genesis Publications, a publisher of limited-edition books. Its first project will be to promote the launch of Transformer, a book/record package documenting the period from 1972 to 1980 that began with the titular album and helped establish Lou Reed’s solo career via “Satellite of Love” and his biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side”. (If you’re too young to know that tune, just click right here. You’re welcome.)

Most rock freaks probably remember this as the time when the Warhol groupie flirted with cross-dressing under the heavy influence of David Bowie, who was still stuck in his glam phase; we’re amazed that Reed remembers anything at all.

Longtime photographer Mick Rock also participated in the book/record project, as did designer John Varvatos due to his obvious infatuation with Reed’s gender-bending style. The launch happened on October 3rd at Varvataos’ Bowery Boutique, which was previously known as CBGC or “the most disgusting rock club in all of New York City.”

Tech innovation company GlassesOff  has chosen M&C Saatchi PR as its AOR in preparing for a fourth quarter product launch.

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John McCain Also Fails to Achieve ‘PR Coup’ with Anti-Putin Op-Ed

And stay off my lawn! Newly inaugurated Iranian president Hassan Rouhani isn’t the only politician who tried and failed to achieve a PR win by following Vladimir Putin’s controversial op-ed placement strategy.

Arizona Senator John McCain also saw Putin’s score as a call to action, but in the process he unintentionally provided us with another case demonstrating the value of a well-crafted PR strategy. McCain wanted to place his “Russians Deserve Better Than Putin” article in Pravda, the official state publication of the Communist Party, but instead it ended up on Pravda.ru, a site that “is not connected to Pravda newspaper”. While the site “covers everything from politics to fashion and celebrities”, its editors were even less receptive to McCain’s message. They quickly ran follow-ups calling his piece an “insolent and arrogant rant” written from “the microscopic viewpoint of a mouse”—which is very similar to the way McCain’s congressional colleagues responded to the Putin article.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Needs Some PR Assistance

Vladimir Putin‘s recent New York Times op-ed on Syria may have prompted some serious ethical debates, but it also led to a chorus of “Me too! Me too!” among other politicians looking to distribute their own foreign policy statements. Unfortunately for these followers, they now serve as case studies demonstrating why Putin pays top dollar for Ketchum‘s PR services.

The new, supposedly moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani placed an op-ed in The Washington Post urging the United States to pursue “constructive engagement” with his country while condemning the chemical weapons attacks that Iran supposedly helped happen—and he did it without PR assistance. His foreign minister also posted a Rosh Hashanah message earlier this month with the apparent goal of appeasing the Jewish community that predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worked so hard to alienate by denying that the Holocaust ever happened.

This is progress, right? Not really.

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Russian Propaganda Rags Still Land in U.S. Papers

The debate over the debate about Ketchum‘s placement of an aggressive Vladimir Putin New York Times op-ed continues this week, but there’s another side of the Putin’s PR offensive that we hadn’t heard of: it’s called Russia Beyond the Headlines, and it’s an English language propaganda rag that regular appears as a paid advertorial section inside American newspapers like the NYT and the Washington Post. Here’s what chess champion and democracy activist Gary Kasparov had to say about the latest edition:

He’s not big on subtlety, and neither is Beyond the Headlines. It’s a branch of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia’s official state publication, and it brings a mix of politics, op-eds and cultural reporting—all with a heavy pro-Putin slant—to foreign newspapers around the world under the tagline “Our News. Your Language.”

Here are our favorite recent headlines at a glance:

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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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M Booth Names Ketchum’s Bornstein CEO

Today New York-based firm M Booth announced that Ketchum‘s senior partner/director of global practices Dale Bornstein would replace founder Margi Booth as CEO.

Prior to this move, Booth had run the company for 25 years after founding it in 1984; her official title will now be chairman, but she plans to maintain a “hands on” approach.

Bornstein brings more than 27 years of experience at Ketchum to her new role. According to The Holmes Report, she was chosen in part for “her work in developing the firm’s Mindfire program for crowdsourcing ideas from college students”; she and Booth will both report to CEO Tim Dyson of Next 15 Communications, which acquired the firm in 2009.

Ms. Booth says:

After 25 years of running this company it’s important to get terrific leadership like Dale Bornstein to come help the company achieve its next level. We need fresh thinking in an ever-changing landscape. We want to expand globally and Dale is in a perfect position to do that.

Roll Call: Solomon McCown, Ketchum, and Racepoint Group

Solomon McCown, a Boston-based national public relations firm, announced the opening of its new office in New York City. Solomon McCown has a track record of working with clients in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., so the new office is a natural progression that will enable the firm to be closer to existing and prospective clients, as well as established real estate, financial services and healthcare companies, key growth areas for the agency. The firm has grown in the last two years, and has already hired 6 new employees in 2013. The new office will be led by Jonathan Pappas, a seasoned agency veteran who brings a compelling mix of agency, corporate, and real estate experience to New York City. (Release)

Ketchum has announced four new hires, three in Atlanta and one in New York: 

  • Phil Swire joins as senior vice president, digital strategy & technology, New York. Phil Swire leads Ketchum’s development function in the U.S. and oversees technology strategy across the Ketchum network. A digital strategist, Swire joins Ketchum from PricewaterhouseCoopers where he was a leader in that firm’s digital strategy practice.
  • Matt Browher is the new senior vice president, digital strategy, Atlanta. Browher has extensive experience in strategy development, team management and interactive marketing, having recently worked at Digitas and as the digital practice lead for FleishmanHillard in Atlanta.
  • Amy Andrieux, the new vice president, multimedia content & strategy, New York, was formerly editorial director at MTV World. Andrieux oversees the Ketchum Digital video group, helps lead content strategy for the U.S., and helps to evolve Ketchum Digital’s multimedia capabilities. Andrieux brings a wealth of multimedia, video and content development experience to Ketchum from her experience developing and leading editorial strategy for MTV World online portals. 
  • Kristen Massaro, Vice President, Digital Strategy, New York, supports a number of key accounts, including Michelin and Gillette, and lends support to other markets in the Ketchum network, with emphasis on the Southern U.S region. Massaro, who has deep expertise in social media engagement, was previously with with Emanate, a public relations sister agency to Ketchum, where she led the digital and social strategy specialty since 2011. (Release)

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Here’s an Excellent Cleveland Clinic Promo Video

We know that Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic earned its reputation as one of America’s best hospitals thanks to the tireless work of the many talented professionals on its staff — but there’s also a good bit of well-executed branding and PR at play. Case in point: this promotional video, released last month. A hospital is a relatively easy place to find touching stories of human perseverance in the face of adversity, but this is a real masterpiece in the “humanizing a brand” genre.

We’re not exactly sure who’s responsible for the video (though the Clinic hired Ketchum as its first AOR in 2012), but we think some credit needs to go to the institution’s communications team.

The PR lesson here: tell a story. In fact, tell several stories — especially if they’re as compelling as these.

Edelman Reboots Its Russian Operations

Edelman PR LogoWe’re fascinated by the very concept of public relations in a formerly closed society like the one now run by Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But the practice certainly does exist, and this weekend Edelman PR announced plans to continue the scheduled reboot of its Russian operations after facing some challenges that led the firm to liquidate its Russian acquisition Imageland.

In 2012 Edelman “ran into some problems” due to pushback from Russia’s Solidarity trade union, which encouraged laid off Imageland employees to form their own union and take legal action against the firm. That spat appears to have resolved itself; in an interview with The Holmes Report, Edelman Russia general manager Kerry Irwin confirms that the office’s staff will include several former Imageland executives who stuck around through a wave of departures.

Edelman represents brands like HP, Wrigley and Mars in Russia. The firm apparently does not plan to work directly with Putin’s government like Ketchum sometimes does, but the Kremlin could certainly use the help: Edelman’s own 2013 “Trust Barometer” study found that Russian citizens unsurprisingly report some of the world’s lowest rates of trust in their own government and media outlets. We’d suggest more Boyz II Men concerts as a good way to start winning the public back, because if there’s one thing pretty much everyone around the world can agree on, it’s the healing power of 90′s R&B.

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