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An Associate at a Firm That Reps Walmart Was Caught Posing as a Student at a Closed Presser

Warehouse Workers United (WWU), a group representing the interests of warehouse employees, says a PR associate at Mercury Public Affairs, a firm that works with Walmart, posed as a student to infiltrate one of its press conferences. The WWU says it was a “closed press conference” and the associate, Stephanie Harnett, signed in on their media list as a “USC student” named “Zoe Mitchell.”

Harnett then showed up at a press conference yesterday and handed out business cards to reporters “telling people she works for Walmart.” Yesterday’s presser was held to announce what the WWU calls “the largest anti-Walmart rally in US history.”

Gawkerwhich first reported on the story, has a link to a document showing that Mercury is being paid $60,000 to help Walmart open up a new store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown area. And the WWU has posted pictures of Harnett and the business card she was handing out.

We were in touch with Mercury about the story and received this statement from Becky Warren, Mercury‘s MD:

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UPDATE: MDC Partners Acquires Majority Stake in Kwittken & Company

kwittken logo.bmp MDC Partners has acquired a majority stake in Kwittken & Company, a deal worth an estimated $10 million to $15 million, according to The New York Times. Kwittken will become an operating unit of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners (KBS&P), the company’s second largest agency behind Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The story says that Kwittken has annual revenue totaling about $10 million and counts Thomson Reuters among its clients. Aaron Kwittken will continue as chief executive and managing partner, reporting to Lori Senecal, president and chief executive at KBS&P. The firm will retain all 22 of its employees.

The deal is the third in five months between MDC and a PR firm. The others were Sloane & Company in April and Allison & Partners in May. The transaction is the sixth overall for MDC since last September.

“P.R. is taking on a higher strategic importance based on its unique role in amplifying a brand’s message in today’s digitally focused, social media world,” Senecal tells the Times.

Update: PRNewser spoke with Jason Schlossberg, president of Kwittken & Company, about the impact of the transaction.

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