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Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004, Page 1

ConAgra Foods has tapped Ketchum as its first "primary" agency of record as part of an overhaul of the company's PR operations that began last summer.

Chris Kircher, VP of communications for the $14.5 billion food company, told this NL Ketchum stood out from a field that was narrowed to four finalists, which were given a product PR assignment as a final test.

As part of a "methodical" companywide process to focus on product publicity, he said ConAgra is currently looking for a senior director of product publicity to coordinate PR for the company's brands, which include Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National Hotdogs and Hunt's , among others.
Kircher, who joined Omaha-based ConAgra from Hill & Knowlton in 2002, said each of the company's business segments (refrigerated foods, grocery products, etc.) will have a PR head under the new structure. Some of those spots are already filled.

Edelman, which has handled the Butterball line for years, will stay on that assignment and Cone retains PR work for ConAgra's foundation. Dome Comms., CKPR, Morgan & Myers and French/West/ Vaughan have recently worked on ConAgra brands.

Kyocera Mita has narrowed its PR firm search to Ruder Finn and Waggener Edstrom. A dozen firms were considered by the Fairfield, N.J.-based unit of Japan's Kyocera Group.

KM plans to spend six-figures to brand its line of printers, digital copiers and imaging systems.

M Booth & Assocs. is the incumbent on the account.


Mindy Tucker Fletcher, spokeswoman for George W. Bush's 2000 campaign and contentious recount effort, has joined Ogilvy PR Worldwide in Sacramento as a senior VP/public affairs.

Tucker served as communications director for the Republican National Committee from 2002-2003 and was director of public affairs for the Dept. of Justice in 2001, acting as Attorney General John Ashcroft's top spokeswoman following the Sept. 11 attacks.

She is advising Bush's re-election bid and earlier worked for his final gubernatorial campaign in 1998.
Ogilvy has also tapped Maggie Linden, a state political operative in California, as a senior VP.


Allstate Insurance has hired Weber Shandwick for corporate positioning work as the Chicago-based insurer works to transform itself into the leading provider of "personal financial services."

The Interpublic Group unit will work in tandem with WPP Group's Hill & Knowlton wing. H&K had been Allstate's agency of record for the past four years, but Peter Debreceny, VP-corporate relations, has decided that a "multi-agency model" is the best approach for the insurer. H&K will continue handling non-positioning projects.

Allstate, which has financial relationships with 16 million households, has signed WS to a three-year deal.


America's Second Harvest has chosen Edelman PR Worldwide to promote its "One Big Table" program designed to increase "brand awareness" of the hunger relief group that is based in Chicago, according to Carol Gifford, VP-communications.

She sent RFPs to 14 shops, and received responses from each. That list included Weber Shandwick, Ketchum, Ruder Finn and Burson-Marsteller. Gifford said "it was hard to pick a firm," but Edelman edged the others because of its combination of consumer product launch and national media relations expertise.

Michael Schiferl, who leads Edelman's media practice in Chicago, and Bob Shavelson in New York are key players on the account. "Shavelson will work to create media partnerships to build a buzz" about ASH's National Hunger Awareness Day on June 3, said Gifford.

The board of Public Relations Society of America on Jan. 30 said it has signed a 13-year lease for 22,000 sq. ft. on the 11th floor of 33 Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan, giving it 50% more office space. A move could take place by April.

The space, the only vacancy in one of the premium buildings downtown (also known as Two Federal Reserve Plaza) has been on the market at $30 a sq. ft.

COO Catherine Bolton said that because of various incentives the price would be below the $23 per sq. ft. price now being paid at 33 Irving place, PRSA's 14,500 sq. ft. home since 1987.

Assuming a $23 a sq. ft. lease for 13 years, PRSA has signed a $6.5 million commitment, by far the biggest financial deal in its 57-year history.

There have been no articles on the decision to move downtown in any PRSA publication nor any mention on its website. There was no debate among members on the decision.

PRSA said the possibility of relocating h.q. was brought to the attention of the 2003 board who granted permission for staff to proceed with the search. It was not stated who brought the matter to the board's attention.

PRSA's first known revelation of the intended move to members was made to Assembly delegates Oct. 25, 2003 in New Orleans. It was presented as a decision that had been made and that was in the final stages of being implemented.

('PRSA' continues on page seven)

Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004, Page 2


Wal-Mart Stores, whose corporate reputation has been tarnished by news of illegal workers, employees locked into stores overnight and cutthroat pressure on suppliers to drive down prices, would be a welcome addition to the southern California grocery store scene.

That is the conclusion of a report released last week by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., which uses Mayo Comms. for PR.

The study purports to be the first to gauge the positives and negatives associated with Wal-Mart entering a market, according to Wally Baker, a senior VP at LACEDC. It finds that the typical Wal-Mart shopper would save an average 15 percent over prices in other stores. Los Angeles consumers, overall, would save $668 million a-year once Wal-Mart grabs 20 percent of the grocery market. The overall region (L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties) would register an overall $3.8 billion savings. That windfall, when spent for non-grocery goods, could create 36,400 jobs.

On the down side, the study noted that Wal-Mart workers earn less than their unionized counterparts. The region's pay loss could hit $529 million. If the compensation of current union workers was chopped to the level of workers at Wal-Mart, the region could lose 5,100 jobs.

More than 70,000 California grocery workers at Vons, Ralphs and Albertson have been on strike since October over management's bid to rein in healthcare costs. The specter of Wal-Mart's move into California looms over that labor battle.

Wal-Mart paid for the LACEDC survey that cost more than $60K.


Ronson Corp., a $23-million New Jersey-based aviation services and consumer products company, has blasted its largest shareholder Steel Partners II and PR firm Sitrick & Co. in an ongoing proxy and legal battle stretching back to 1997.

In the companies most recent spat, Steel Partners has criticized a new employment contract given to Ronson's 80-year-old CEO, Louis Aronson, as well as Ronson's appeal this month of a suit filed against Steel Partners to disclose its investors. The suit was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in New York in early January.

SP says Aronson's contract extension, which must be honored even if the company is acquired or merged, is essentially a "golden parachute" for an executive in the "twilight of his years."

Ronson has blasted SP and its PR firm Sitrick – noting its founder (Mike Sitrick) has been called the ‘Wizard of Spin – for issuing misleading statements regarding Aronson.

Ronson's CFO Daryl Holcomb said in a statement that the company's performance has increased drastically under Aronson and that his compensation is tied to performance.

New Delhi-based Perfect Relations is helping Coca-Cola deal with an NGO-fueled campaign which says Indian-produced cola products contain dangerous pesticides.

India's parliament is currently probing research by the Centre for Science and Environment, an NGO which found that Pepsi and Coke bottled in the country contain high levels of pesticides (in some cases, 30 times European regulations).

The two soft drink rivals held a rare joint press conference last year when CSE's findings were initially released. India's parliament is expected to hear the findings of a joint committee this week on the subject.

"We are managing a situation where Coke is facing a huge underlying anxiety in the public about the quality of its product," Dilip Cherian, president of Perfect Relations, told this Newsletter. "You have the government and some very, very hyperactive NGOs speaking out, so this calls for extraordinarily delicate, culturally specific handling."

CSE said the pesticides discovered in soft drinks are commonly used insecticides and agricultural products. By comparison, no such chemicals were found in U.S. beverages.

Alston & Bird is working to improve U.S. ties with Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. It is positioning the country as a solid ally in President Bush's war on terror and one that is committed to democracy and human rights.

A&B, according to its agreement, is to highlight positive developments regarding internal security and economic development to "U.S. policymakers, and opinion-shapers in the print and broadcast media, think tanks and academia." The firm's contract is with Yohannes Hadrian Widjornarko, who is commissioner of P.T. Pacific Barito Timber, an Indonesian forest products company.


Sabrina Horn is looking to hire a senior account supervisor and two junior staffers to help ramp up the New York office of the San Francisco-based high-tech agency. The senior person will guide new business and direct current programs, do high-level press and analyst relations, as well as mentor staffers.

Horn, who says her Big Apple office is "exploding," prefers someone with software/telco experience. Team spirit is a must. Contact would be Lisa Azizian, 781/356-7100.

The Horn Group has eight people in the New York office, which was opened in August 2002. They serve clients such as Telcordia, Telcove, Connectrix, BladeLogic, Staffware, Lumeta, Secured Services, Kavado, Managed Objects and Information Builders.

Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004, Page 3


Virgil Scudder said The Columbia Journalism Review's article on media training (NL, 1/28) does a "disservice to media trainers and the public."
Scudder, who runs a media training firm in New York, slammed CJR for painting "an entire industry with the kind of broad tarbrush that too many business executives and politicians apply to journalists."

The trainer, who was quoted in the article which appears in the January/February issue, said in his letter to CJR that to imply that politicians "evade tough questions because they have been media trained is to ignore several hundred (or perhaps thousands) of years of history."

Scudder, a former newscaster for WCTC-AM in New Brunswick, N.J., said "`Spin doctors date to ancient times while media training didn't begin until the 1970s."

He also criticized the report for contending that a newsmaker has no right to add relevant information that was not specifically asked for.


All editorial employees of CBS MarketWatch must register their stock trades with the company.

The confidential registry will be audited quarterly by the legal department to verify their trading information.

The new rule, which is meant to prevent business journalists from buying and selling stocks of companies they cover, was put into effect after Thom Calandra quit as chief commentator of in the wake of an SEC investigation into his trading activities.

The SEC had asked Calandra for trading records of gold stocks he recommended in his own newsletter, The Calandra Report.

"While most financial publishers restrict employees stock trading in one way or another, random audits are highly unusual," according to Carl Bialik, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

Two weeks ago, CNBC said its employees and their spouses could not trade individual securities and must roll over their stocks and bonds into blind trusts or sell them.


New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said it is not his intention to turn the Sunday Book Review section into Mad magazine. His remark came in response to e-mails from readers who were upset over a report that he wants the new editor of the section to allocate more space to reviews of nonfiction works, and less to contemporary fiction (NL, 1/28).

Keller, who said he got "a few panicky e-mails from people who have the impression that we want to turn The Book Review into Mad Magazine," said the goal is to "somewhat increase the emphasis on nonfiction, but not move away from fiction."

In an unrelated move, David Kirkpatrick, who had been covering the book publishing beat, has been assigned to examine conservative forces in religion, politics, law, business and the media for the Times.


Harrington Communications, a PR firm based in Springfield, N.J., will oversee editorial content for a new magazine called Inspire Your World.

The magazine, which will debut in March, is billed as the "first consumer magazine on volunteering and philanthropy" by its Millburn, N.J.-based publisher, BizExUSA.

Gary Schneider, CEO/publisher, said the mission of the publication is to illustrate how companies, volunteers and communities work together to meet community needs.

"We want to connect consumers and companies with their areas of interest in volunteerism and report on the good deeds and causes that inspire organizations, their employees and everyday people to give back," said Schneider.

He said the magazine will bring togeher everyday people with celebrities, CEOs and communication leaders who share a common commitment to giving back.

The magazine, which will be published six times a year, will be sold on newsstands in the Northeast, and distributed to nonprofit organizations, Fortune 500 CEOs and leaders in the civic, healthcare and education industries.

Angela Harrington, president of HC, is editor, assisted by Mark Phillips, who is at 973/912-8196.

David Gonzalez, who has been The New York Times Caribbean and Central America bureau chief based in Miami since 1999, has returned to New York as a reporter for the paper's news feature called "Citywide."

The feature will run every other Tuesday on the front page of the "Metro" section.

Gonzalez, 36, who joined the Times in 1990, is a former Bronx bureau chief.

The Green Magazine, which will target more than six million minority golf participants of various ethnic backgrounds, will roll off the press in March.

Former basketball star Michael Jordan, who hosted his annual "Celebrity Golf Classic" on Paradise Island in the Bahamas Jan. 7-11, will be on the first cover.

Published by Vision Media and Communications in New York, the magazine's editorial content will profile celebrities, sports figures, actors, entertainers and miniority corporate executives.

Ian Lawrence, president of VM&C, said an editor has not been named. Lawrence is at 212/629/4920.

(Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004, Page 4


Her Sports, a new national magazine targeting women who lead active sports lifestyles, will be published by Wet Dog Media, a new publishing company in St. Petersburg, Fla., that was started by Dawna Stone.

The magazine will make its debut as a bimonthly in March, before increasing its frequency to 10 times a year in March 2005. It is WDM's first magazine.

Her Sports will target women who participate in running, mountain biking, triathlon, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, surfing and other popular individual sports.

Besides sports training advice and interviews with everyday athletes, it will cover active and adventure travel, athletic gear and apparel, body and mind issues, and sports and general nutrition.

Christina Gandolfo, previously editor-in-chief of Triathlete magazine, is editor of Her Sports, which will have an initial circulation of 50,000.

Gandolfo, who will oversee the magazine from her home office in San Diego, can be reached at 619/280-1845.

Other staffers will be in St. Petersburg. Amy Phillips, who is a marketing coordinator as well as a photo editor, can be contacted at 727/825-0491.


Jeff Buchanan was named managing editor of Robb Report MotorCycling, a new lifestyle magazine targeted to affluent two-wheel enthusiasts.

The new quarterly title will go on newsstands Feb. 10, with an initial distribution of 100,000 copies.

Buchanan, who is based at CurtCo's headquarters in Malibu, Calif., can be reached by phone at 301/589-7663; [email protected].


The Archaeological Institute of America has named Trylon Communications in New York to heighten visibility of Archaeology magazine's new consumer-oriented focus.

The agency will concentrate on securing editorial coverage for the bimonthly magazine's feature and news items, while promoting the publication's editors for expert commentary on key issues relating to topics covered by the magazine, which now covers history, travel and culture in addition to archaeology.

Editor Peter Young can be reached at his office in Long Island City, N.Y., at 718/472-3050.


Linda Burbank was named the new travel problem-solver columnist on USA Today's website (

She replaces Chris Elliott, whose "Travel Troubleshooter" column was dropped about two months ago. Elliott believes he was axed for being a frequent critic of U.S. Airways.

Burbank started "Consumer Power," an ombudsman's column for Consumer Reports Travel Letter, and is also a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler.

Her column will make its debut in March.

Andrew Sherry is editor of the travel site, which is based in McLean, Va.

Deb Martin was promoted to news editor for Ohio in The Associated Press Columbus bureau, succeeding Nancy Nussbaum, who was named assistant chief of bureau for Ohio.

Reynaldo Mena was appointed editor-in-chief of Hoy's new Los Angeles edition, which will debut in March. Mena, a native of Mexico, joins Hoy from Excelsior, a Spanish-language weekly published by The Orange County (Calif.) Register, where he was editor from 1999 to 2003.

Knox Robinson, previously editor-at-large, was named editor-in-chief of The Fader, a music/lifestyle magazine owned by New York-based Cornerstone Promotion.

Brigid Hughes, 31, previously a staff editor, was named editor of Paris Review in New York, succeeding George Plimpton, who died in September.

Razor magazine, a men's lifestyle magazine, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has opened an ad office in New York at 575 Lexington ave. The four-year-old monthly features political viewpoints, travel features, interviews with celebrities, musicians, and authors, as well as financial insights, human interest stories, and the latest in fashion and grooming.

Razor targets affluent 21 to 39-year-old males, who have been dubbed "metrosexuals."

Knight Ridder has named Daniel Borenstein as editor of an expanded Sacramento bureau that merges the capital staffs of The San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.

The bureau will cover the policy, politics and personalities driving the state.

Borenstein had been political editor for The Contra Costa Times since 1991.

The Wall Street Journal for India will be published five days a week by Bennett Coleman & Co., publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times.

The paper will be edited for global Indian business readers and international business travelers.

Suman Dubey, who is currently Dow Jone's corporate representative in India, was named editor of the new paper, based in New Delhi.

Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004, Page 7

(PRSA con't from page one)

PRSA said it looked at 25 cities before deciding New York was the best location. It is not known whether chapter leaders or members were told about the survey, which was made in partnership with two real estate firms, PRSA said.

Assembly Had Voted to Leave New York

The Assembly in 1985-86 twice voted to move h.q. out of New York after chapters in seven cities (including New York) made presentations.

The board over-ruled the Assembly, saying only the board could make such a decision.

Some members in chapters across the country had complained that the midtown location gave New York chapter members unfair access to Society facilities. When PRSA/NY had such access and the h.q. staff worked closely with the chapter, it had 1,200 members in the 1960s
and early 1970s. The chapter was ordered to leave h.q. in 1991 because former COO Betsy Kovacs said the space was needed.

PRSA several years later rented out many hundreds of square feet of its office to the Metropolitan Transit Authority which had the space until the end of 2002.

Chapters, Members Quiet on Move

No public comment on the move has come from any New York chapter leaders or the leaders of any other chapters. Bolton described the impending
move to the chapter board in December 2003 and she said the directors were supportive of the move downtown and even thrilled by it.

However, veteran chapter members told this NL that anti-New York fever is running so high in PRSA that it would be useless to oppose the h.q. staff and the 17 non-New Yorkers on the board. We didn't
want to get in a fight with national, said a longtime member.

A downtown location makes little difference to PRSA/NY since few chapter members ever go to h.q. and coordination with h.q. is minimal, chapter members said. PRSA/NY pays an outside service $100,000 a year to manage its affairs.

Some members say the inconvenient location could hurt and even doom the Society. Round trip via subway is at least an hour in mid-day.

Board and staff members would not say whether PRSA has been able to sub-lease 33 Irving. The lease there extends to 2009.

PRSA officers and staffers have charged that conditions in the building make it almost uninhabitable. Conditions were so bad that the board would not meet there on one occasion last year. However, conditions have improved lately, staffers said.

The PR director post that is now open at PR Society of America has had three occupants since 1995.

Not counted is Catherine Bolton who joined PRSA as chief PR officer on Sept. 5, 2000.

She was promoted to acting president and COO as of Jan. 1, 2001, after COO Ray Gaulke resigned.

Gaulke, who had a five-year contract to Dec. 31, 2004, continues to be paid under this contract. PRSA will not reveal the amount of the settlement with Gaulke. His last known pay was $230,000 in 2000, plus a pension contribution of $26,001.

Bolton was named president as of Feb. 2, 2001.

This title was taken back the next year by Kathy Lewton, the highest elected officer of PRSA, and Bolton became executive director and COO. Her
four-year contract expires at the end of this year and reports are she is seeking another four or five year contract.

Roberge Was Previous PRD

The latest PR director of PRSA was Libby Roberge, who worked from August 2001 to late June 2003, when she went on maternity leave. She did not return. Cedric Bess, chapter/district relationship manager, took over her duties.

Richard George, PRD before Roberge, worked from April 1997 to October 1999, quitting just before the 1999 annual conference. Steve Erickson was PRD from June 1995 to October 1996. He also quit just before the conference.

Roberge had 13 years of PR experience when she joined PRSA. Previous post was VP of G.S. Schwartz & Co., New York. George was a PR manager at The Weightman Group, Philadelphia.

Erickson, who had a 15-year background in PR, was VP, communications of the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta from 1986-95.

Erickson also handled the Counselors Academy and towards the end of his term spent most of his time on the Academy. He resigned after a dispute with Gaulke and 1996 PRSA president Luis Morales.

Donna Peltier was PRD from 1984-94, serving under COO Betsy Kovacs, who left the Society at the end of 1992 after 13 years.

Peltier was not allowed to go to lunch with any O'Dwyer reporters unless Kovacs was present. There were three such lunches from 1984-92.

Martin Burke, who was hired in 1976 as VP-PR, resigned after 3.5 months saying, "The environment at PRSA h.q. was such that they were not ready for a VP-PR and they gave me no support on my projects."

The Michael Jackson saga dominated the chat at the PR Newswire-sponsored Entertainment Publicists Professional Society mixer on Jan. 14 at Joseph's Café in Hollywood. The media frenzy over the King of Pop has made their PR lives a lot more challenging.

"I feel that the Michael Jackson media coverage is damaging the jury," said Rachel Griffin, PR manager, MGA Entertainment. "Jackson going on TV saying he's innocent might taint the jury selection. The jurors should just listen to the facts presented in court," she said. Griffin is a tad turned off by the spectacle. "I just want to know the verdict. I could care less about knowing that he was on Diane Sawyer, or flew a plane, or rode his bike, or went to the bathroom."

Scott Pansky, president of EPPS and partner of Allison & Partners, talked about the media overkill. "Michael Jackson is a public figure and obviously when a story like this comes out, the media are going to cover it, but he's being treated like an animal in the zoo. He is the center of the media circus, and everyone is taking advantage of it. I look at the shows that air and all people care about are the ratings. I don't think that's what the media was meant to do."

Rita Tateel concurred about the circus idea. "I think it is what the public is clamoring for and the media knows they re going to get attention, so everyone is hopping to it," said the Celebrity Source president. "Michael Jackson is getting so much coverage that it is draining media resources, forcing legitimate stories, including entertainment ones, to be dropped."

Jon Shulman, owner of his own firm, worries things are only going to get worse. "It's out of control, he said. It's O.J. all over again." He concedes that many people care about Jackson, as evidenced by the busloads of people outside the court. "It's insane, but it's Los Angeles," said Shulman.

"It's overkill, because it is just not worth the space," added Clift Bektar, an entertainment consultant. "You see 20 satellite trucks lined up for Michael Jackson's court appearance, which is overdone."

New Delhi-based Perfect Relations is helping Coca-Cola deal with an NGO-fueled campaign which says Indian-produced cola products contain dangerous pesticides.

India's parliament is currently probing research by the Centre for Science and Environment, an NGO which found that Pepsi and Coke bottled in the country contain high levels of pesticides (in some cases, 30 times European regulations).

The two soft drink rivals held a rare joint press conference last year when CSE's findings were initially released. India's parliament is expected to hear the findings of a joint committee next week on the subject.

"We are managing a situation where Coke is facing a huge underlying anxiety in the public about the quality of its product," Dilip Cherian, president of Perfect Relations, told this website. "You have the government and some very, very hyperactive NGOs speaking out, so this calls for extraordinarily delicate, culturally specific handling."

CSE said the pesticides discovered in soft drinks are commonly used insecticides and agricultural products. By comparison, no such chemicals were found in U.S. beverages.

Internet Edition, Feb. 4, 2004 Page 8



The charge in the January/February issue of Columbia Journalism Review that media trainers have "turned the craft of the interview on its head" unfairly targets the trainers for what has become widespread PR practice (story on P. 4, 1/28 NL).

That practice is for news sources to avoid direct questioning by the press (and/or security analysts), and if that's not possible, turn the interview to the advantage of the news source.

This is standard practice not only for most companies and PR firms but also at the highest levels of PR–namely, PR as practiced by President Bush.

He has had only ten formal press conferences vs. 61 for his father at the same point in the senior Bush's presidency.

In at least one conference, on the invasion of Iraq, President Bush determined in advance which reporters would be called upon.

CEOs and CFOs of virtually all the major companies avoid in-person contact with analysts and reporters in their quarterly reports on financial results.

Instead, they hold "teleconferences" where the analysts and reporters can't read the "body English" of the CEOs and CFOs nor can they work together to nail down answers. An IR person determines who will get or not get to ask questions and quite often, the conference is cut off long before the analysts are satisfied.

Omnicom is noted for its quarterly teleconferences that start at 8:30 a.m. or later and are cut off well before 9:30 a.m. so the analysts can be present for the "opening of the market" (which is actually not high on their list of things to do).

Cheeky analysts are simply not put in the queue for these conferences while reporters may listen to the conferences but usually cannot ask questions.

Many if not most of these "virtual" meetings could be held in-person since most of the financial press and the great majority of analysts are in New York.

A trip to New York would be no great inconvenience for the executives.

Even New York-based companies such as Omnicom and Interpublic do not conduct in-person quarterly interviews with analysts and the press when it would be so easy to do so.

The Columbia article says the interviewees are winning this arm-wrestling battle and that "journalism has morphed into a cog in a great PR machine."

News sources have the power to withhold information and themselves from in-person interviews but the losers are the public, the PR industry and the news sources themselves.

The PR director job at PRSA (page 7) is a revolving door because of the heavy pressures that are on this person.

Since all members of the board are forbidden to talk to the press and the president, the sole spokesperson, is often unreachable, the PR staffer has to field all sorts of questions that he or she cannot answer because of one reason or another.

Board members, who should be doing the talking, "hide" behind the PR director. This is very wearing on the PRD who may quit in anger and frustration.

This is what happened with Richard George and Steve Erickson. They both quit just in front of the national conference when they were most needed. Neither had a job to go to.

Former COO Ray Gaulke said Erickson quit after heated words were exchanged between Gaulke, Erickson and 1996 president Luis Morales.

Martin Sorrell's comments (1/28 NL) that there are "too many people in the middle" in PR and that PR should be more like consulting and investment banks ("that have big producers at the top, and then a lot of arms and legs, a lot of soldiers") brought some reader comments.

One reader said that the middle levels in PR are the ones "doing all the heavy lifting including managing and mentoring juniors."

Commenting on Sorrell's favoring "fewer, better people at the top, and bringing in young, better people who can do the implementation and learn the business over time," three readers said that companies don't want their PR budgets being used to "train people."

Asked one: "Does Sorrell expect his clients to finance his junior staff's training?" Another reader said mid-level people are being worked "too long and too hard and leave the agency business to recapture work-life balance." There are "too many junior people who aren't trained, said this reader.

President Bush has made a wise PR move by agreeing to set up an independent commission to evaluate the intelligence failures concerning Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction program. The panel will enable Bush to deflect criticism from his Democratic Presidential opponent that his Administration "hyped" intelligence to lead the U.S. into war. The panel also will report its findings next year—safely for Bush—past the November election.

The President can engender more PR goodwill by extending the deadline for the current panel that is exploring the reasons for 9/11. That panel, led by former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, contends it needs more time, and must extend its life beyond the current May 27 deadline date for releasing its report. Bush would receive another PR bounce by agreeing to that request.

--Jack O'Dwyer


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