Sunday, January 09, 2005

Getting caught in the crosshairs

From the same firm that brought us the Karen Ryan VNR debacle, now comes the Armstrong Williams blow-up.

Now, this cannot be much fun for Ketchum DC, but the fact of the matter is that the office somewhat brought it down upon themselves.

First, this is the firm that hired Karen Ryan to do some work for the Department of Health & Human Services. She went out their on a video news release - something that everyone in PR does - but signed off as Karen Ryan Reporting. A group of words that will likely haunt Karen and Ketchum till the end of time ...

Of course, the Ryan debacle would have likely fallen out of the public's mind if not for ... the Armstrong Williams debacle. Now, I would bet that the Associated Press would not have been so hot on the trail for a story on the push behind "No Child Left Behind" if Ketchum had not worked on both NCLB and DHHS ... see how Ketchum has gotten itself caught in the crosshairs? For his $240+K, Williams lost his Tribune syndication deal (and, well, the respect of a lot of people). That should hurt his pocket book more than taking the Ketchum cash would.

Now, this type of "expert" hiring is nothing new in public relations, and likely happens a lot more in the world of DC public affairs. If you want to see the full extent, just go to O'Dwyer and search for Qorvis or read Disinfopedia and the firm's campaign with expert outreach for Saudi Arabia.

Now, don't expect Ketchum to stop such campaigns. Estimates are that the DC office pulls in $15M - and that's not chump change. But, do expect reporters to be up in Ketchum's face all the time, searching for more of these connections through the wonderful freedom of information act.

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