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Posts Tagged ‘Ketchum’

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.

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?

Soviet-Style PR: Firm Plants Positive Stories on Kremlin’s Behalf

President Vladamir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev A few weeks ago we reviewed the Communist Party’s unique approach to PR damage control; today we observe the ways in which the Party ensures positive coverage in foreign media outlets.

In short: they pay for it.

We’re not talking about traditional Party mouthpieces like Pravda and The People’s Daily. This matter concerns stories carried by familiar American media outlets like The Huffington Post and CNBC, which recently posted op-eds by “independent” businessmen proclaiming Russia to be “Europe’s Bright Light of Growth”, calling the government’s approach to the worldwide recession “a model of restraint” and naming Russia “the most dynamic place on the continent.”

An investigation by ProPublica, a research organization dedicated to facilitating “Journalism in the Public Interest”, found that Ketchum planted these complimentary pieces in order to improve Western perceptions of two-time Russian President Vladamir Putin’s government and the nation’s business culture. Ketchum, one of the world’s largest PR firms and PRWeek‘s 2012 agency of the year, has represented the Kremlin since 2006.

Ketchum’s filings with the US Justice Department reveal that, while the company’s employees did not write the stories themselves, they did reach out to the authors and arrange for the placement of their op-eds on prominent websites in order to encourage “foreign investments” in Russian companies.

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Roll Call: Edelman, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, and More

Edelman has announced the launch of the Daniel J. Edelman China Group to oversee the expansion of its four service brands in China. Starting January 2013, the Daniel J. Edelman China Group will be comprised of four major lines of business: flagship agency Edelman, the newly created Edelman Digital, national firm Pegasus and sister agency Zeno Group, which is scheduled to open its first China office by the end of 2012.

The new group structure brings some staffing changes and executive appointments. Effective 1 January 2013: Steven Cao, current Pegasus president, is promoted to the new role of CEO, Daniel J. Edelman China Group. Kevin Wang and Tony Tao, Edelman’s managing directors in Beijing and Shanghai, will assume joint responsibility for the flagship agency’s China operations as co-presidents of Edelman China. Jeffrey Yu, Pegasus managing director, assumes complete responsibility of Pegasus China. John Kerr, recently appointed regional president for Zeno Group, will be responsible for assembling the Zeno China team. (Release)

Bob Pickard, Burson-Marsteller‘s Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, has tendered his resignation, and will be stepping down from his leadership role to pursue another opportunity to be announced in the coming months. His last day with the firm will be December 31st. In his place, Patrick Ford has been named interim Chair for Asia-Pacific. Ford has been with the firm for 23 years and is currently the firm’s Worldwide Chief Client Officer. He will continue in that role, focusing on driving growth among Burson-Marsteller’s largest clients in the Asia Pacific region as well as around the world. Ford served as the firm’s U.S. Chief Executive Officer for five years before becoming a Vice Chairman in 2012. He has been working from Hong Kong for the last several months. (Release)

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