October 07, 2011

Glover Park Group Wins Top Award

Gpg_logo_sm The Glover Park Group won the presitgious 2011 Global SABRE for Outstanding Public Affairs Consultancy, hosted by The Holmes Report. According to The Holmes Report, "Washington, DC heavyweight Glover Park's ability to synthesize top-tier public affairs credentials with a formidable communications offering helped it prevail despite a highly-competitive shortlist."

Founded in 2001, the company now has offices ni New York, Los Angeles and Boulder, Co. (PF Tipster)

May 12, 2011

CASE STUDY: Swirling PR Scandal Engulfing PR Firm Burson-Marsteller regarding Google and Facebook

Burson Marsteller logo The world of corporate public relations is not just pitching reporters with positive stories.  In today’s hyper-competitive world of global commerce, it is also sometimes necessary to engage in the world of dark arts to undermine your competitors.

Usually, these efforts remain confidential.

Facebook logo But today, the Daily Beast broke the news that worldwide PR firm Burson Marsteller (BM) was retained by Facebook to lead a negative PR campaign against Google.  Before today, it was not publicly known who retained BM on this project, although Apple and Microsoft were falsely suspected.

Google logo The USA Today reported later Thursday that BM confirmed they had been retained by Facebook to bring “publicly available information to light” against Google and that Facebook’s name “be withheld on these grounds.

BM admitted, in a rather extraordinary statement that belies the brand threat the PR firm was facing, “this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle.”

How did this become public?

According to the Daily Beast, “the story gained wider attention when USA Today reported that two PR flacks from Burson—former CNBC tech reporter Jim Goldman, and John Mercurio, a former politcal reporter—had been pushing reporters at USA Today and other outlets to write stories and editorials claiming Google was violating people’s privacy with Social Circle.

This story is still developing, and threatens both Facebook and BM – in terms of their reputations.

Does PR firm Burson Marsteller need a PR firm?  (PF reporting, Daily Beast, USA Today)

May 10, 2011

JOB OF THE WEEK: RepEquity, Account Director

RepEquity, which recently merged with Virilion, seeks an Account Director.

RepEquity logo Bring your client leadership, strategy, and people skills to a digital powerhouse!  RepEquity, merged recently with Virilion, has developed, managed and protected brands of leading global corporations and organizations for 14 years. Our focus on search optimization, social media, mobile and web platforms, and digital analytics enables us to reach our clients’ audiences, bring them to engaging content, motivate them to action, and optimize the results.

Virilion logo Our Account Management team is responsible for making everything happen. They plan, lead, and manage all of our clients’ projects – and make sure that we deliver great work.  The Account Director will be responsible for leading clients and ensuring our work creates measurable results.  We are looking for the right Account Director to join our Washington, DC team – with energy, enthusiasm, and the strategic insights and practical experiences to make it happen!


-         Lead client relationships and manage them profitably.

-         Understand client’s organization, goals and objectives, and develop strategic solutions to reach those goals by leveraging digital media and channels.

-         Continuously uncover and present innovative ideas to clients.

-         Provide client team leadership and oversee day-to-day activities including project planning, status reporting, billing/invoicing, and vendor and partner management.

-         Develop scopes of work, estimations and formulate pricing for client work.

-         Coordinate staffing with capability practices.

-         Ensure deliverables are at the highest quality and within budget and time frame.

-         Help advance agency’s business from strategy to process to business development.


Success Factors

-         Winning presence

-         Self-motivated

-         Attention to detail

-         Excellent written and oral communication skills

-         Adept at delegating, managing and mentoring internal staff

-         Passion for search, social media, mobile, and the web

-         Proficient in MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Project

-         Thought leader in search, social media, mobile platforms, and digital media

-         College degree mandatory; Master’s degree a plus.

-         Agency background critical

-         10+ years of experience in digital marketing, search, Web design, social media, and mobile development, with deep experience in digital project management 

TO APPLY: Please send resume and cover letter with salary expectations to [email protected].  (PF tipster)

April 16, 2011

NYT: From “Press Agent” to “Supress Agent”

Entourage - Publicist The New York Times recently reported on a growing problem in the world of celebrity publicity: the thoughtless use of social media can “undo years of careful image crafting.”

Citing recent controversies with rapper Chris Brown, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, and actor Charlie Sheen, publicists today spend time not just promoting the new projects of their clients, but also cleaning up messes that stars create themselves on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

One publicist said, the new social media world “gives our clients many new opportunities to screw up.”

Another said, “The margin of error is slim when you go directly to the public.  One comment can become a fiasco in 10 seconds.”

To read the full story, click here.  (The New York Times)

July 09, 2008

Clinton, Bush Advisers Steeped in Crisis Join Forces

Mpkh The Wall Stree Journal is reporting that former Clinton strategist Mark Penn, chairman and CEO of public-relations firm Burson-Marsteller, is hiring former Bush adviser Karen Hughes as a vice chairman.  The political combatants, known for their partisan efforts, decided to combine forces to offer a one-stop crisis-communication and public-affairs shop to corporations caught in front-page headlines.  Back in April, our friend Al Kamen of The Washington Post, reported the two power lunching.  Seems the deal might have been in the works then ... (WSJ)

April 20, 2007

Let's Review the DOJ PR Disaster

Now that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has testified again before the Senate Judiciary Committee, it gives PF a chance to review the horrendous mistakes DOJ made in handling this U.S. Attorney scandal from a PR perspective.

Let's first review the major mistakes they made:Ag_gonzales

1) Never lie to Congress - It is perceivable that DAG Jim Comey, AG Gonzales, and other DOJ officials may have lied when they testified to the Senate.  This is never a good idea and makes "handling" the PR side of it a nightmare.  The Senate hates being lied to, and once that happens even Republicans get angry.

2) Never lie during a press conference - The March 13 Press Conference held by the AG will be shown in PR and crisis communications courses in college for years to come.  AG Gonzales gave conflicting answers, seemed furtive and uncomfortable, and was clearly not confident or in control.  He was either not adequately prepared or froze under the Klieg lights.  The most damaging part of that press conference was when he said he "was not involved in any discussions" regarding the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys.  Using the word "discussions" covers pretty much any kind of communication, and for a trained lawyer like Gonzales, it was a bad word to use.  The former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that was not true.

3) When the emails comes out, so will the truth - Once you have to start handing over emails, there is blood in the water.  When DOJ said the White House had nothing to do with the scandal, that was provably false once the emails were retrieved.

What could DOJ have done to have fixed this or made it less of a scandal?

1) AG Gonzales should have apologized in writing and in public to all eight U.S. attorneys and removed any doubt about their performance.

2) AG Gonzales should have taken full responsibility immediately, not blamed Sampson and others.  If the AG does not know what's going on with eight USA's under DOJ (some of the most important USA's too, overseeing San Diego, Seattle, and Phoenix), then he's not in control of his department and that's a huge problem.

3) AG Gonzales should have testified sooner.  Waiting three weeks, regardless of the recess, gave the scandal time to grow and fester, as more emails came out.

When the story keeps changing and the boss doesn't seem in charge, opponents can make any type of accusation seem plausible.  If DOJ had said we fired these eight US Attorneys because we believed new people would do the job better, this could have been avoided.  But instead, you had the information drip out slowly and now his status is tenuous, as evidenced by the lack of support he found from Republicans yesterday during the hearing.

January 26, 2007

WH Deputy Comms Director Pulls Back Curtain on PR Tactics

Catherinemartin_1 WP's Dana Milbank looks at how Thursday's testimony at Scooter Libby's trial by White House Deputy Comms Director Catherine Martin (right) laid bare some of the WH's comms techniques.  Highlights:

  • "With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. 'Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday,' she said. 'Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday.'"
  • "She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators."
  • "She put 'Meet the Press' at the top of her list of 'Options' but noted that it might appear 'too defensive.' Next, she proposed 'leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags. Sit down and give to them.'
  • "For all the elaborate press management, things didn't always go according to plan. Martin described how Time wound up with an exclusive one weekend because she didn't have a phone number for anybody at Newsweek."

We'll say this: this trial has to be creating some very awkward moments among the WH staff.

January 22, 2007

Other '08 Flacks Impressed By Romney's Rapid Response

Mittromney_1_1 We've already praised Mitt Romney's comms team for their same-day video rapid response two weeks ago, but now it looks like other '08 campaigns were impressed too.  Per WP's Chris Cillizza:

Other campaigns took note of how Romney responded to the anonymous video and said they will be on notice for similar tactics that could be used against them. "If you're able to create a good viral attack ad, not as a campaign but as an individual, that can really get out there and get going," said [John Edwards' Internet strategist Matthew] Gross..."That Romney episode of responding was a very smart move."

Cillizza's must-read article has some behind the scenes info on how Romney's Matt Rhoades and Kevin Madden developed the video response strategy, as well as other good stuff about how the '08 candidates are using video.

December 11, 2006

Flack Cameos in House Ethics' Foley Report

Markfoley2 The House Ethics Committee's full 92-page report in the Mark Foley page scandal is fascinating reading, not least because it shares a few new details about the role that Capitol Hill flacks played in the story.

Per NorthJersey.com, the committee report shows that Matthew Miller, current comms director to Sen. Bob Menendez and formerly comms director for the House Democratic caucus "tried to get reporters to investigate former [Foley] after receiving several e-mails Foley had written to a former House page."  Miller shared the emails with reporters for the Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times and Roll Call and said Friday that "prompting the press to publicize the matter struck me as the most effective way to expose and hence stop clear impropriety by a sitting congressman."

Newsweek, meanwhile, reports that "as a part of a 'gut check,' Miller testified, he shared the e-mails with the 'communications director at the DCCC.' While the DCCC staffer is not named in the report, Bill Burton was (and is now) the DCCC communications director and a top aide to Emanuel. (Burton did not respond to phone calls and e-mails from NEWSWEEK. DCCC spokesperson Sarah Feinberg confirmed that Miller provided Burton with copies of the e-mails.)"

November 06, 2006

Foley, NRCC Flacks Held Damage Control Call Two Days Before Story Broke

Markfoley_1 NY Daily News' Ben Smith reports that ex-Rep. Mark Foley's spokesguy Jason Kello and NRCC spokesguy Carl Forti participated in a damage-control planning call a full two days before the story broke on Friday, Sept. 29:

NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti and Reynolds' then-Chief of Staff Kirk Fordham took part in the first call the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 27, and another call the next day, Forti acknowledged yesterday.

ABC News approached the Foley campaign on Tuesday, Sept. 26, with a set of e-mails in which Foley asked a former page for his photograph.

The conference call the next evening, described by a Capitol Hill staffer familiar with the talks as focused on "damage control," also included Foley's Florida-based political consultant, Richard Johnston, and his communications director, Jason Kello, according to two people familiar with the call.

About the Authors

  • FOLLOW US: @potomacflacks
  • Matt Mackowiak - Site Manager
    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

    Laura Gross - Contributor
    Laura Gross is currently president of Scott Circle Communications. She has served as deputy director of communications at the DNC, was Gov. Howard Dean's Communications Director and she worked in the press office at USAID during the Clinton administration. Her experience also includes time in the PR department of National Public Radio and she was part of Vice President Gore's advance team when he was in The White House.
    Follow her on Twitter: @ScottCircle

    Blain K. Rethmeier - Contributor
    Blain K. Rethmeier is currently the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA). Rethmeier joined AIA from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President for Communications and directed communications for the National Economic Council and Homeland Security Council. Prior to joining the White House, Rethmeier served as Press Secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    Follow him on Twitter: @BlainR

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