Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher, commenting on the contract the
firm had with broadcaster Armstrong Williams to promote the
"No Child Left Behind" Act, said that Williams discussed
NCLB "with other media outlets on his own initiative."
The contract, however, specifically says:
"Mr. Williams shall utilize his long term working relationship
with America's Black Forum, where he appears as a guest commentator,
to encourage the producers to periodically address the NCLB
Act (67 million viewers; reach 87% of urban market)."
America's Black Forum banned Williams from future appearances
on the show after the contract was revealed by USA Today
Ketchum's deal with Williams, in which he promised to "regularly
comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts,"
sparked heavy media coverage and has resulted in at least
five government agencies investigating Ketchum.
Kotcher has only answered
written questions for publication from PRW.
It was mentioned prominently in a New York Times feature
on PR Feb. 13 headlined "Spin Frenzy" and was also
discussed at an "Ethics Summit" hosted by PRSA March
Kotcher's remarks were made in written form to the April
4 PR Week in response to questions from PRW.
Attempts to reach Kotcher today by this website were unsuccessful.
Kotcher told PRW that "There is no indication that it
was ever the intent of Ketchum or any of our people to mislead
anyone. It is also our understanding that in addition to speaking
on his own show, Williams discussed NCLB on the record with
other media outlets on his own initiative before and during
the contract. Ketchum did not arrange any or these interviews
PRSA Members from 82 to 28
Kotcher was asked via a staffer today about the decline in
Ketchum PRSA members from 82 listed in the Blue Book
in 2001 to 28 listed in 2004, three years later.
Only 17 of the Ketchum staffers listed in 2001 are still
on the Ketchum roster of members of PRSA, an attrition rate
of about 80%.
Eleven of the PRSA members listed in 2004 were not on the
Kotcher was asked if the 65 employees who are no longer on
the list either quit PRSA or left Ketchum.
Phone calls to a sampling of those not on the 2004 list were
made. None could be reached because they were no longer at
Ketchum PRSA members who were on the 2001 list but not on
the 2004 list are as follows:
Grossman Jennifer Grunstad
Kimberly Ann Gutowski
Karen Lynn Woessner