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Internet Edition, Aug. 4, 2004, Page 1

Libya, which says it has junked its weapons of mass destruction program for better ties with the U.S., has given Fahmy Hudome International a $1.2 million one-year pact to improve that nascent diplomatic relationship.

Randa Fahmy Hudome, who served as Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy in the current Bush White House, heads FHI. She began the Libyan work on July 1, the one-year anniversary date of FHI's incorporation.

Hudome will approach U.S. Government officials, think tanks, "influentials," and NGOs on behalf of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime.

She is to "advance U.S.-Libyan relations, visibility, credibility, rapprochement and normalization," according to her contract.

Jennifer Hazleton joins Hudome at FHI as an associate. She worked in Spencer Abraham's Michigan office when he was Michigan's Republican Senator.

Hazleton told O Dwyer's she could not comment on FHI's client work. FHI's contract with Libya includes a $265K office set-up cost. That covers a $200K initial consulting fee, $30K office fit-out, $25K for equipment and $10K for stationery and supplies.


ATA Airlines, the nation's No. 10 carrier, has hired Hill & Knowlton because it "wasn t getting its share of voice" in the cutthroat airline market, Vicki Higgins, director of market development, told O'Dwyer's . "As a low-cost carrier, we had handled PR internally," she said.

Indianapolis-based ATA, however, felt a need to step up its presence in priority markets, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Higgins, who said ATA considered a "long list" of PR firms for its account, would not give a budget figure.

ATA lost $64 million on $387 million in first-quarter revenues. The company anticipates second-quarter red ink because of a decline in military charters that were needed last year to support the Iraq invasion.

H&K/New York is responsible for ATA's corporate positioning, media rels., IR and consumer promos.

Anne Fetsch, advertising director of PR Society of America and with PRSA 15+ years, has left the staff. PRSA refused to comment. John Robinson and Gale Spreter now comprise the marketing department.

Fleishman-Hillard has tightened its time sheet certification measures, plans to set up a whistle-blower hotline and has hired an outside "ethics expert," amid allegations it overbilled the city of Los Angeles for PR work. CEO John Graham, in an e-mail to staff that was distributed to the press July 29, said he will personally meet with the firm's California staff and plans to schedule conference calls with each of the company's offices and affiliates.

The firm is conducting an internal probe alongside of a joint local-federal probe into its work for the Department of Water and Power and political contributions to Los Angeles government officials.
Graham said in the e-mail that F-H will eliminate all contributions of corporate funds to candidates or ballot issues and has instituted a three-part approval process for any solicitation of political donations from F-H employees or the firm itself.

The firm is also overhauling its process for departing staffers, putting responsibility for all exit interviews in the hands of talent department liaisons in its St. Louis headquarters.

GolinHarris has named Eric Lochner EVP and operations director of its southeastern region. The former VP at is based in Washington, D.C., where he will focus on business development.

The Chicago-based unit of Interpublic is sporting a new logo these days. The firm has dropped both the slanted line between Golin and Harris, and the word "international" from the corporate moniker. A new website is in the works at the 48-year-old company.

Internet Edition, Aug. 4, 2004, Page 2


Wonderbra has selected Maloney & Fox, New York, to handle the celebration of its 10th anniversary.

Marina Maher Communications had launched Wonderbra, a part of Sara Lee Corp.'s Hanes unit, with great fanfare, earning it a PRSA Silver Anvil.
Ken Jacobs, who joined M&F last year, is senior counselor on the account. He had worked on Wonderbra when it was at MMC along with fellow M&F staffer Mona St. Leger.

Marina Maher told O Dwyer's that her firm handled the launch of Wonderbra's Spring `03 line, but then Sara Lee Corp.'s new management team decided to bring PR in-house.

MMC, said Maher, was later asked to pitch for the 10th anniversary campaign, but the firm declined to participate. "I recommended Ken," she said. Weber Shandwick, which has Sara Lee brands, also pitched.

M&F is a unit of Waggener Edstrom.


M Booth Assocs. has picked up the PR account for the Merchant Risk Council, a group set up by retailers with an online presence to encourage consumers to buy goods over the Internet.
Booth was referred for the work by client American Express, which is on the board of the MRC. Backers include Apple, Yahoo!, Expedia, Best Buy and a swath of other vendors and financial institutions (it counts 6,500 members).

"The goal is to get out the word that e-commerce is actually safer than traditional shopping," said sr. A/E Matt Hantz. MRC contends that many online merchants have more safeguards than traditional retailers.

The combine also works with the FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspectors to track down cyber criminals.

APCO Worldwide is spreading the word that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is a staunch U.S. ally committed to combating terrorism.

Barry Schumacher, who handles the Indonesia account, told O Dwyer's that APCO will arrange a trip for Indonesian notables to Washington, D.C., following the country's presidential vote run-off on Sept. 20.

APCO will set up meetings with people on Capitol Hill, and conduct media outreach for its client. The group will talk about diplomatic ties, democratic reform and cooperation on the terror front, Schumacher said.

Indonesia's anti-terror image received a jolt on July 22 when a court ruled unconstitutional a law used to convict more than 30 people for the Oct. `02 bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people.

Barbara Cohen, who has more than 20 years of consumer PR experience, has been named senior VP at Cohn & Wolfe. She reports to Liz Beck, managing director of the New York consumer practice.

Cohen was senior VP at Cairns & Assocs., handling Swarovski Crystal, Snuggle Fabric Softener and Universal Studio's consumer group.

At Ogilvy PR, Cohen was responsible for Perrier Group, Coca-Cola, BP and Panasonic Batteries.

Cohen spent a decade at Ketchum, where she helped snag a PRSA Silver Anvil for Dole Food's campaign promoting consumption of five helpings of fruit and vegetables a day. She also ran "The Art of Ketchup" program for Heinz USA.

"Communication with members and leaders needs to be timely, two-way, frequent, open, trustworthy and credible," said IABC chair David Kistle of Padilla Speer Beardsley in the July/August Communication World.

Kistle, when told it appears these principles weren t followed when IABC was sued by its former CEO Elizabeth Allan May 1, 2003, said they don't apply in a lawsuit.

IABC staffers and leaders didn t tell the full board about the suit until January, 2004. Members were told in early July, 2004.

A trial is set for November. Also being sued is ex-acting president Louis Williams.

IABC on July 28 filed a reply to the third amended complaint of Allan in which she charged that Williams made defamatory remarks about her while working at the h.q. of IABC in San Francisco from January to June, 2001. Allan is seeking copies of e-mails by Williams to the entire membership as well as 8,000 individual e-mails he said he sent.

The reply again denies culpability by IABC and says that any problems that came up at IABC were created by Allan herself.

Lawsuit Is 'An Exception'

Kistle said he and other IABC leaders are following the advice of lawyers in not discussing the case. He said he believes in good communication as he defined it in CW but that litigation is "an exception."

He spent seven days recently traveling in the Far East in behalf of IABC, visiting Bangkok, where a new chapter is being formed, and Kuala Lumpur, where there was a conference of communicators.
The Ragan Report, which had two pages on the lawsuit July 12, said it will now only cover "major developments."

Contributing editor Dave Murray wrote July 19 that, "No matter how good a legal case Allan has against IABC and Williams, this episode is only going to make everybody unhappy" and that "any monetary award Allan receives can t possibly make up for the humiliation she claims to have felt over Williams' remarks at an industry conference session." Murray feels "the whole thing is dismal and unpleasant to write about." A discussion of the case on the members-only "MemberSpeak" chatroom on the IABC website had drawn a record 748 views as of Aug. 2.

Atamira Communications is handling PR for Andre Tolme, the 35-year-old civil engineer from New Hampshire who has just golfed across Mongolia.
Tolme divided the treeless steppes of Mongolia into 18 holes. He figured par was 11,800 for the 2.3 million yard course. That's equal to the distance between New York and Oklahoma City.

Using only a three iron, Tolme played "the front nine" last summer, and completed "the back nine" two weeks ago. He shot a 12,170.

Tolme has told various media that he golfed Mongolia because he wanted to.

He described his strategy to New York Times sportswriter Dave Anderson as you hit the ball, go find it and then hit it again. He lost 509 balls.

Tolme traveled with a Mongolian caddie in a jeep stocked with food, water and a tent.

Atamira, which is in Atlanta, will handle a media tour and sponsorship opportunities for Tolme.

He appeared on "The Today Show," and will be on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Aug. 4.

Atamira also handles book and movie rights.

Internet Edition, Aug. 4, 2004, Page 3


The New York Times public editor has sided with individuals who believe the newspaper's liberal viewpoint has resulted in one-sided coverage of many issues, especially gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation.

"The fattest file on my hard drive is jammed with letters from the disappointed, the dismayed and the irate who find in this newspaper a liberal bias that infects not just political coverage but a range of issues from abortion to zoology to the appointment of an admitted Democrat to be its watchdog," said Daniel Okrent, who acts as the reader's representative, in his July 25 Sunday column. "If you think the Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed," wrote Okrent.

He said newspapers have the right to decide what's important and what's not. But their editors must also expect that some readers will think: "`This does not represent me or my interests. In fact, it represents my enemy. So is it any wonder that the offended or befuddled reader might consider everything else in the paper—including, say, campaign coverage—suspicious as well?," he wrote.
Okrent said Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. defends the paper's liberal viewpoint as being "urban." "He says that the tumultuous, polygot metropolitan environment the Times occupies means `We re less easily shocked, and that the paper reflects `a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility, " wrote Okrent.

Okrent said many also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination.

For example, he said it is "disappointing to see the Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading." He pointed out the "potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage" have been virtually absent from the Times since the issue exploded last winter.

Fox News Channel's media relations department is blacklisting journalists who write negative things about the network, according to Alec Ben Block, a reporter for TV Week.

David Bauder, a TV reporter in New York for The Associated Press, who has reported on FNC regularly, got cooperation until he published an article about Paula Zahn, who had quit Fox to join CNN.

"Why we re not dealing with him is that he treated us completely unfairly," Irena Briganti, an FNC publicist, was quoted as saying. "He took a story, when we were just doing our job, being a resource, and made (the Fox publicist) a part of the story."

Mike James, who operates NewsBlue, a TV news industry website, has also been blacklisted for calling an FNC anchor a "bonehead" in his publication.

David Folkenflik, a media reporter for The Baltimore Sun, was blacklisted three years ago for pointing out that FNC correspondent Geraldo Rivera was not at the scene of a battle in Afghanistan when he claimed he was. He was recently de-blacklisted.

"Media relations people are not servants to the media," FNC publicist Robert Zimmerman told TV Week, adding, "You know, everyone tries to hold us accountable. The reporters should be held accountable for what they do. A lot of media relations people won t do that. Well, we do."


Figure, a lifestyle magazine aimed at plus-size women, is switching from quarterly to bimonthly publication next month.

The year-old magazine has reached its targeted circulation rate base of 400,000 copies, according to Geri Brin, Figure's co-publisher.

Backed by Charming Shoppes, the Pennsylvania-based retailer, the magazine is sold on select newsstands and at its parent company's Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines stores.

Mode, which tried to carve a niche out of the plus-size market, ceased publication in 2001 after five years, and Grace went out of business last fall after about 18 months on newsstands.


Vegetarian Times is being relaunched by Active Interest Media, which acquired the title last fall.

The magazine, which is approaching its 30th year in business, is going from "hippie-chick to hip and chic," according to the Rosen Group's Diane Stefani, who is handling PR for the publisher.

She said the new VT will have a softer, more feminine design and appearance, recipes, a new editorial team, and newsstand distribution will double by 100,000, with increased number of outlets.

AIM's chairman/CEO, Efrem Zimbalist III, is banking on the trends in the U.S. to live a healthier lifestyle, said Stefani. "Surprisingly, more than half the readers of VT do not follow a strict vegetarian diet. They are referred to as `flexitarians, and turn to the magazine for overall health concerns," she said.

Ziff Davis Media has started a print version of ExtremeTech, an online site for technology do-it-yourselfers. It will provide expert knowledge on how to design and upgrade PCs and related technology systems, networking, security and video games.

The Washington Post Co.'s free commuter newspaper, Express, is upping its daily circulation from 150,000 to 175,000 copies.

Christopher Ma, publisher of Express, said the next step is to extend Express audience to college campuses and to other urban locations with heavy daytime foot traffic.

New York magazine will publish four daily oversized special issues covering the Republican National Convention.

Maer Roshan, former editor-in-chief of Radar, was named editio of all four issues plus the Aug. 26 special issue on the RNC.

The dailies will cover parties, events and delegates with tongue-in-cheek items such as "Who's been seen eating where," and "Who's been spotted buying red ties at Brooks Brothers." has acquired CableNewser, a blog founded last January by Brian Stelter, an 18-year-old college student.

Mediabistro's editor Jesse Oxfeld said Stelter will cover the networks and the big three cable stations for TV Newser, the blog's new name.

(Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, Aug. 4, 2004, Page 4


Karen Matusic, who has been a senior editor at Energy Intelligence magazine, has rejoined Dow Jones Newswires as a special writer for DJ Energy Service, which provides real-time news, prices, data and analysis for oil, power, and natural gas markets.

Matusic, who will be based in the newswire's Washington, D.C., bureau, will cover the domestic and foreign politics of oil, and write stories about oil market trends and developments, according to Richard Levine, executive editor of Dow Jones Newswires, who said Matusic has a "depth of her sources among members of OPEC, oil company executives and people in the markets."


Nicholas Chesla, who previously led a team that writes The Bond Buyer's market column, was promoted to managing editor.

He will oversee the daily paper's coverage of public finance, its affiliated web-based products, and management of the news-gathering resources.

The paper, which is owned by Thomson Corp., is read by underwriters, issuers, institutional investors, bond counsellors, credit enhancers, rating agencies and investors.

Amy Resnick is editor-in-chief of the New York-based paper, which has reporters in seven regional offices throughout the U.S.


Richard Pastore, who joined CIO magazine in 1991 as a staff writer, was appointed editor, and Allan Holmes, previously editor-in-chief at Federal Computer Week, was named Washington, D.C., bureau chief.

Pastore, who is based in Framingham, Mass., will oversee day-to-day operations of the editorial team as well as the print edition of CIO.

Holmes will write and edit features pertaining to government IT as well as security and risk managements. He will also oversee content for both CIO and its sister publication CSO magazine.


Christopher Napolitano, 40, was promoted to editorial director of Playboy magazine, replacing James Kaminsky, who left.

Napolitano, a Playboy staffer for 16 years, was features editor before being named executive editor last year. He will continue to be based in New York.


Carol Marin, a Chicago newscaster, will join The Chicago Sun-Times as a political columnist Aug. 18.

Marin, who has been writing a column for The Chicago Tribune, made news and inspired a debate about journalism ethics in 1997 when she and anchor partner Ron Magers resigned from NBC's WMAQ-TV to protest the hiring of Jerry Springer as a news commentator.

She rejoined WMAQ last February and will continue as a reporter for the station and as co-director of the DePaul Documentary Project at DePaul Univ.


Jack Anderson has retired as a writer for the "Washington Merry-Go-Round," a syndicated newspaper column.

Eleanor Clift, who has been a correspondent for the column for several years, will replace Anderson, 81, who has Parkinson's disease. Clift's byline will appear with Douglas Cohn, who has been working with Anderson for 18 years, and has been his partner for the last five years.

The column is syndicated by U.S. News Syndicate in McLean, Va. K.J. Kennard said Cohn and Clift will "continue their hard-hitting analytical column that has gained a reputation for insight, historical analogy, and interesting twists overlooked by other writers such as their exposure of the stock market's burgeoning short-selling scandal."

The New York Times made the following new beat assignments:

—Ed Wyatt was assigned to cover book publishing news while continuing to cover news for the business section.

—Laura Chang was named science editor. She takes over in September from Rick Flaste, an associate editor, who has been acting science editor for several months.

—Jack Rosenthal, a former writer and editor at The Times for 25 years, will replace Daniel Okrent as the readers representative for the month of August. Okrent will return after Labor Day.

Kristi Helm, previously Seattle bureau chief of The San Jose Mercury News, has joined The Seattle Times as tech enterprise reporter.

Becky Bisbee, busienss editor, said Helm will write on timely and topical tech issues, the culture of technology and significant developments that have broad impact on the industry.

All In, a new magazine aimed at poker aficionados, is attracting both readers and advertisers, according to its 27-year-old publisher Bhu Scrinivasan, a former dot-com entrepreneur who launched the magazine three months ago at the World Series of Poker.

Scrinivasan can be reached at 206/624-5652.

Hoy, a Spanish-language daily paper for Chicago's 1.6 million Hispanics, has opened a news bureau in the city's Little Village neighborhood.

The bureau's reporters will cover news and information in the neighborhoods of Little Village and Pilsen, as well as suburban Berwyn and Cicero.

Internet Edition, Aug. 4, 2004, Page 7

Stock of Omnicom, off 18% this year to about $71 while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has been about even, is being hurt by $24 million in insider sales and other factors, said Barron's July 26.

OMC reports PR income of nearly $1 billion.

Its biggest PR unit is Fleishman-Hillard, which has been hit with charges of overbilling by the City of Los Angeles (see story above).

F-H had fees of $345M and 2,288 employees in 2001, the last time OMC allowed F-H or any of its units to publish its figures.

Major investors are concerned about the costs of OMC itself (OMC is the holding company for 1,500 ad/PR firms) including bonuses and options for the top OMC execs, and a possible jump in interest costs. OMC has debt of $2.6 billion, much of which can be "put" back to the company.

There has been a startling dip in new acquisitions, touching off concern at an analysts teleconference July 27. OMC has depended heavily on acquisitions for growth for many years. Another concern is deteriorating operating margins, falling .06 to 14.3% in Q2.

The Barron's article, by Dimitra Defotis, said investors "were miffed this spring when John Wren, the well-respected CEO, and two other insiders sold big chunks of stock."

Wren netted $6.1M in March by selling 95,000 shares at around $80. The shares, obtained by exercising options, cost him $11 each. Allen Rosenshine, chairman of BBDO, netted about $11M and Keith Reinhard, CEO of DDB, netted about $7 million.

OMC insiders only purchased 1,000 shares in the first half while selling 265,000.

Wren has rarely appeared on the insider's trading list. On June 13, 2002, he purchased 20,000 shares in the open market at $55 a share to show his confidence in OMC after the Wall Street Journal criticized its accounting practices. The article triggered a drop in the stock from the $70's to the $30's .

From May 31, 2000 to June 12, 2002, a tabulation by Yahoo! showed no insider purchases on the open market. The 89 transactions included 70 sales or planned sales, 12 exercises of options, and six acquisitions via restricted stock (stock at market price that must be kept for a certain period).

Wren Press Appearances Are Rare

Wren has given only one major press interview since June 2002–to Bill Spain of CBS MarketWatch.

The annual stockholders meeting, after many years in New York, was held in Los Angeles in 2003 and in Atlanta in 2004.

Other factors hurting the stock, according to Barron's , include poor local ad figures and a new accounting rule that could force OMC to count the shares backing its contingent convertible (CoCo) bonds in calculating earnings per share.

OMC has decided to pay cash to bondholders rather than allow them to convert the bonds to stock, which would cause dilution. It is paying $27.50 per $1,000 of bonds as a "sweetener" to those who purchased zero-coupon bonds hoping the stock would rise. OMC is $36 below its high of late 2001.

Although OMC announced a 15% rise in per share profits in Q2 to $1.10 (net of $206M), the stock remained at the $71 level. Profits were helped by acquisitions (almost exclusively increased shares in firms previously purchased) and favorable foreign exchange rates.

OMC had $2.6 billion of debt as of June 30, including $2.3B in "puttable" CoCo bonds that allow investors to demand a return of their cash. Debt of the five big ad/PR conglomerates is $13.87 billion, according to Yahoo! ($2.29B at Interpublic, $3.34B at WPP, $4.39B at Publicis, and $1.71B at Havas). The WSJ article said that OMC's $800M+ spending on acquisitions each year had made it hard to track the origin of its profits.

Acquisition spending was $472M in 2003.

Only $1M was spent on new acquisitions in Q2 while $145M was spent for earnout and subsidiary payments and $1M on affiliates.

CFO Randy Weisenberger said the acquisition activity was at nearly an all-time low but that it would pick up. He said OMC's lawyers are busy with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and that acquisitions are not made until OMC is satisfied they will be worthwhile.


Jane Genova, Westport, Conn.-based PR pro and writer, has launched a marketing communications capability because she says this is more in tune with what clients want.

She noted that the Aug. 1 Sunday New York Times had 26 ads for "marketing" jobs but only nine for "PR." PR job listings in the NYT, which were once 70-80 each week, have been around 10 or below for over a year.

"Since setting up a marketing boutique, my communications consulting business has started to thrive again," she said.

The problem with "PR," she said, is that prospects think it's a "long-term build, expensive, and may not yield results."

"For too long," said Genova, "PR pros have focused on process and programs and not on results obtained quickly, on a project-basis, and cost-efficiently."

Genova ([email protected]) says PR pros who want to make the switch or add marcom to their wares, must learn the language of marketing, its results-orientation, its quick pace and its "now" focus.

With this orientation, she says, "I am able to get the prospect's attention, have instant credibility, and walk away with the business."

One of the things she learned by attending an eight-week marketing and sales seminar was that marketers aim to "get in and get out fast" with clients.

"I had to change just about everything I thought I knew about approaching prospects and about actually providing services and content," said Genova, adding: "Marketing uses the direct and concrete rather than the indirect and abstract approach of many PR pros."

Another marketing approach is to keep identifying new markets. Marketing seems to find many more "out there" than PR, she says.

Genova, who is now building a brand name in marketing just as she once did in ghostwriting books for business executives, says she monitors what is going on in marketing and sales as well as PR.

She will use a combination of PR and marketing techniques to help build awareness of her capabilities.

"Not every PR pro has the temperament, mindset and instincts to enter marketing," she adds. "Those who do will find their careers having much more runway left than they ever dreamed."

Internet Edition, April 4, 2004 Page 8



Omnicom, which owns PR firms doing about $1 billion in fees (Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Brodeur, etc.), is a "beleaguered stock," according to Barron's (page one story).
No wonder!

Practically anyone who comes into contact with OMC is either made a fool of or is had in some way.
Particular victims are those who purchased OMC at $107 in 2001 and are sitting with a 36-point deficit.

They must be chagrined that CEO John Wren and two other insiders sold shares worth $24 million in the first half of 2004 while buying none. Why are they doing this if the future is so great? Other victims are those who lent OMC $2.3 billion at no interest, hoping the stock would soar and they could convert bonds to stock at a big profit.

They are being soothed somewhat because OMC is being forced to pay 2.75% interest on the bonds.
Startling is the news that OMC, a roll-up if ever there was one (1,500+ different companies), only spent $1 million on new acquisitions in the second quarter, which Wren and CFO Randy Weisenberger said was a record low.

Analysts on a conference call July 27 were intrigued by the sudden drop-off. Is this the end of the acquisition road? asked several.

Weisenberger said OMC lawyers have been busy with Sarbanes-Oxley, which will cost OMC $50M this year. Also, OMC never makes a buy without the most thorough examination, he said. It would rather not buy anything. Both Wren and Weisenberger predicted a pickup in acquisitions in Q3 and Q4.

But among those shafted by OMC are all the ad agencies and PR firms it purchased that are no longer allowed to report their billings and fees.

Why would any PR firm want to join the OMC family when it will be deprived of one of its main new business tools–a ranking by legitimate PR publications based on easily available proofs?

Douglas Carmichael, now the nation's accounting "czar" (Public Company Accounting Board), told us in 2003 that the congloms were wrongly citing SOX as the reason they could not allow reporting of payroll and employee totals. Such figures are mere "compilations" and not covered by GAAP, he said.

Robert Benowitz, a securities lawyer with a specialty in SOX and partner at Rick Steiner Fell & Benowitz, New York, said the bill was designed to restore "public confidence in the integrity of the financial markets" and that there is nothing in it that blocks disclosure of employee and payroll totals.

Benowitz, who was at the SEC for six years, said "Companies must ensure that, among other things, the released information is in compliance with their internal disclosure controls and of course, is accurate, but that companies subject to SOX should consult with their counsel on compliance with the law."

The ad industry does not pretend to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about products. Its job is selling and it does it well. But PR is about truth if nothing else. A PR firm that cannot describe its size to clients and prospects has raised questions about its integrity and honesty.

There are plenty of knocks about OMC and the other ad/PR conglomerates that investors talk about although we don t often see them in newspapers.

–The $13.87 billion debt of the Big Five is a heavy burden that could get much heavier if interest rates rise.

–"Procurement officers" are depressing the entire ad/PR business by giving agencies the "third degree," pinching every penny, and demanding proof of effectiveness. New business is at lower margins.

–The holding company model (which pays an extra layer of executives huge sums) is getting on the nerves of clients.

–The creatives who were sold out by the owners of their firms are especially watchful of these sums and are demanding more for themselves. OMC and the other congloms will have to pay more to keep the creatives happy lest they open their own shops.

–The word the congloms fear is "independents," meaning creative shops without all that overhead.

Attempts to buy up every last ad/PR firm and eliminate the entire category of independents failed. There is an economy of scale in media buying, at which the congloms excel, but not in creative.

–Particularly wasteful is the $50,000 each of the top ten conglom-owned PR firms gives each year to the Council of PR Firms. CPRF abandoned its goal of ranking all PR firms and now has no visible mission. This is another power play that failed.

–The economic resurgence may top out early, some forecasters say, blocking ad agency growth.

–OMC has a problem with its biggest PR unit, Fleishman-Hillard, which is charged with false billing by the City of Los Angeles. F-H reported $345M in fees and 2,288 employees in 2001 but no one outside of OMC and F-H knows what the numbers are now. A clue might be that F-H's PRSA members dipped 33% from 70 to 47 from 2001 to 2004. It's a poor clue, but the only one.

–The Big Five ad/PR congloms have wooed Wall St. and snubbed the trade and general press for years. The most painful example is Wren taking OMC's annual meeting to the hinterlands. Instead of undergoing the purifying lash of the press, the five have dodged it by concentrating on the analysts, many of whose companies do business with the five. But even Wall Street is becoming disillusioned.

-- Jack O'Dwyer


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