The Dominican Republic has given The Harbour Group a $260K six-month PR job to improve its reputation in the U.S.

THG fee covers “overall program management” for the Caribbean island, whose neighbor Puerto Rico just received a “junk” bond rating from Standard & Poor’s.

The firm’s contract features core elements such as message/strategy development, media relations, rapid response, media training and outreach to think tanks/business leaders/academics.

Through news stories, commentaries and analysis pieces, THG’s focus is to position DR as a “good regional neighbor and regional economic success story.”

DR on Jan. 31 received bullish news on the economic front. The International Monetary Fund’s Alejandro Werner, who heads the organization’s Latin American and Caribbean region, rated DR’s economic performance in 2013 “very good.” He expects better growth this year.

THG joins Steptoe & Johnson on the country’s image team.

Since January, S&J has handled “international public opinion” for DR under a team that includes Luis Fortuno, former president of PR.