Edition, Dec. 8, 2004, Page 1
GOOGLE SEARCH FINDS CARRYON.
Google has brought
in Los Angeles-based CarryOn Communications to handle PR
for the search giant's enterprise unit.
enterprise business includes search technology for public
websites and private company intranets, usually sold on
a two-year license with hardware and software in the package.
VP Sarah Evans told O'Dwyer's the firm is handling PR for
the enterprise unit as one of the company's first outside
up to its successful IPO this year, Google told O'Dwyer's
it had no plans to pursue outside agency relationships at
the time. The company has not returned a request for comment
staffs about 40 in three offices, including New York and
Washington, D.C. Symantec and Tenet HealthSystem are among
BIRDS EYE ZEROES
IN ON EDELMAN.
Birds Eye Foods has named Edelman PR Worldwide its agency
of record following a competitive pitch.
The Rochester, N.Y.-headquartered firm traces its roots
to Clarence Birdseye, who is considered the "father
of frozen foods." He launched Birds Eye Frozen Foods
in Springfield, Mass., in `30, and the company gained momentum
during the Great Depression by leasing freezers to cash-strapped
More recently, Birds Eye recorded a 6.5 percent decline
in first-quarter (ended Sept. 25) sales to $177M and a net
loss of $220,000, compared to a $2.9 million year earlier
Bea Slizewski, who is Birds Eye's VP-corporate communications,
would neither name finalists nor budget. Cheryl Overton,
Edelman's senior VP-consumer brands, will head the account
from New York.
RAGONE JOINS OGILVY.
Regina Ragone, a registered dietitian and former editor
of Prevention, has joined Ogilvy PR Worldwide's consumer
marketing group in New York.
Prior to working at the health magazine, Ragone was test
kitchen director at Ladies Home Journal and assistant manager
at Campbell Soup Co.'s global consumer food center. Ragone
also served as a nutritionist for Family Circle, where she
directed the Family Circle Cooking School.
Ragone is the author of "Win the Fat War Cookbook"
and "Decadent Diabetic Desserts."
SAUDIS SPEND $7.3M AT
Qorvis Comms. received $7.3 million from Saudi Arabia during
the six-month period ended Sept. 30 for promoting the Kingdom's
"commitment to the war against terrorism and peace
in the Middle East."
The Washington, D.C.-based firm arranged one-on-one interviews
with media luminaries, such as CNN's Wolf Blitzer, NBC's
Tim Russert, CBS John Roberts, NPR's Diana Rehm and Fox
News Tony Snow.
Qorvis drafted letters to Congress, conducted surveys,
prepared ads and created the www.aboutsaudia-rabia.net for
The Patton Boggs affiliate also arranged a "road show"
for Kingdom officials that featured stops in Los Angeles,
Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and Richmond.
Qorvis expenses included a $7,049 tab for CEO Michael Petruzzello's
trip to New York (4/27-4/28) to meet with Saudi Arabia's
U.S. Ambassador Prince Bandar and Crown Prince Abdullah's
foreign policy adviser Adel Al-Jubeir, and $15,439 for managing
director Shereen Soghier's visit to Riyadh and Jeddah to
meet with a crew from "60 Minutes."
Sogheir, who was special assistant to Bill Clinton's social
secretary, is in charge of managing the Saudi account. She
joined Qorvis three months after the 9/11 attacks by 19
terrrorists, of which 15 hailed from the Kingdom.
SMITH RAPS PR 'BLOCKERS.'
Liz Smith, whose
column is syndicated in 65 papers across the U.S., including
the New York Post, used her entire Nov. 28 column
to attack PR people who she says are blocking press access
to their clients and employers.
The column not only
rapped the big celebrity-handling PR firms like PMK, but
PR pros working for "government and big business."
press once dominated publicists and treated them like slaves,
the situation is reversed," she wrote.
PR people become
"royalty" themselves when they represent a famous
person and get in the position of being able to block access
to that person, she said.
are locked against the press and much of the press, unable
to do an end run, stands outside begging to be let in,"
she said. (continued
on page seven)
Edition, Dec. 8, 2004, Page 2
Cooper Katz & Co. in New York is handling publicity
for Virgin Mobile's new holiday marketing campaign, which
has dubbed Dec. 13 as the first offical commemoration of
The PR firm said Chrismahanukwanzakah celebrates the joys
of all things like Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and elves
(it even includes Scientologists and agnostics) with songs,
images, ad spots, e-card, a roller disco skate party and
$20 off Virgin Mobile handsets.
"Most companies dance around the different traditions
that make December so festive, by just branding it all holiday,
" said VM chief marketing officer, Howard Handler.
"When we looked at that play it safe mentality,
combined with election angst over the whole morality
issues, we thought it was high time to mix things up a bit
by spotlighting aspects of each of the major December traditions
to create one all-inclusive jamboree that's tongue-in-cheek,
but also real about its message."
Anne Green of CK said more than 300,000 people have already
downloaded the free Chrismahanu-kwanzakah carol a
song penned by alt band Ween called "We re All Snowflakes."
EG ADDS CASSIDY TO
Equatorial Guinea has signed Cassidy & Assocs. to a
$360K pact to advance its relationship with the U.S. by
explaining the northwest African state's "history,
culture and strategic goals." Part of that effort is
to build support for the government of President Teodoro
Obiang Ngeuma, who was the target of an attempted coup attempt
in March, and faces allegations that he has looted EG's
EG officials say two of President Bush's most trusted allies
and members of the "coalition of the willing"
Spain (under the former government of Jose Maria Aznar)
and the U.K. were behind the overthrow effort.
Cassidy is the second D.C. firm to be hired by EG of late.
C/R International inked a $250K pact in September. CEO Robert
Cabelly told O'Dwyer's that EG is still a client.
OVER TO STRAT@COMM.
Jody Clarke, who was VP-communications at the Competitive
Enterprise Institute, has joined Strat@ comm, Fleishman-Hillard's
transportation PA unit.
At CEI, which describes itself as a non-profit group dedicated
to reducing government overregulation, Clarke worked on
the campaign regarding the safety impact of federally mandated
fuel economy standards. E.g., CEI believes higher fuel economy
requirements force automakers to produce smaller and less
Ron DeFore, a Strat@comm founder, lauded Clarke's "experience
in the public policy think tank world" in announcing
the hire. Clarke also worked as a broadcast journalist/anchor
at CBS and Fox.
NEW PRSA TASK FORCE
PRSA president Del Galloway named ethics chair David Rickey
to head a task force to study governance including nominating
committee practices. Seven members were also named. Its
work would not be finished until deep into 2005.
The announcement was criticized by dissident members who
said Galloway had no right to name a committee when a new
board will take office Jan. 1.
Further, they said, a majority of the 17-member board staged
a revolt Oct. 22 that defeated a proposal by Galloway to
probe the 2004 nomcom.
The board, by a 10-4 margin, blocked the nomcom probe and
directed a general probe of governance.
The raucous meeting resulted in several directors being
in tears and others leaving the room.
Galloway's leadership is over and he should accept it rather
than trying to foist his selections on the 2005 board, said
They objected to many of the Galloway choices for the governance
probe including Rickey, pointing out he is not a board member.
They question the naming of PRSA attorney Arthur Abelman
as an ex-officio member, saying some PRSA leaders do not
always agree with his advice.
In addition, they said that governance has been repeatedly
studied for years without needed action being taken, such
as allowing any member to run for national office and letting
chapters send anyone they want to the Assembly (service
for more than three years is barred). They say a task force
headed by Jack Felton in 2000 urged that board members be
barred from influencing the nominations. This recommendation
Other task force members named by Galloway were Felton,
Grace Leong, Ellen Hartman, Pender McCarter, Francis McDonald
and Dr. Mark Schilansky (parliamentarian for 2004 Assembly).
STATUE OF LIBERTY AD.
Simon Malls has apologized and yanked its ad featuring the
Statue of Liberty urging consumers to visit one of its 13
malls in metropolitan New York.
The New York Times ad carried the tagline, "Very
Inspiring. Now, where's the mall?"
The move to pull the ad followed an inquiry from this NL
on Nov. 29 to Cathy Wilcox, who handles advertising at SM.
O'Dwyer's wanted to know why SM is using a symbol of national
freedom (especially during the Iraq war) to promote shopping,
and whether other icons are used elsewhere in the country.
Les Morris, corporate relations manager, responded via
the following e-mail: "Please understand that we meant
no disrespect to this national icon of freedom. It was not
our intent to be offensive; rather to promote our centers
in a lighthearted manner. Please accept our sincere apologies.
Lastly, we have pulled this ad and will not run it again.
We heard your comments and have taken immediate action."
Morris said the ad is one in a tourism series, using familiar
landmarks in the area.
Edition, Dec. 8, 2004, Page 3
HUNGER FOR FOOD NEWS.
Editors and advertisers across the country have discovered
that readers are hungry for food stories, whether they explore
emerging health issues or new cuisines, profile chefs or
review kitchen products, or simply provide traditional recipes
and how-to advice, reports Liz Halloran, a staff writer
for The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
Halloran recently wrote that food sections, "once
pink-collar ghettos of wash-day recipe swaps, grocery coupons
and `women's news, " are becoming showplaces for some
of the news business best writers.
Increasingly reporters like Kim Severson, who recently
joined The New York Times from The San Francisco
Chronicle, are trading in hard news beats to bring their
talents to food sections, said Halloran.
She also cited other reporters including David Shaw, a
longtime media news reporter for The Los Angeles Times,
who now writes a weekly food column; Frank Bruni, who swapped
the N.Y. Times Rome bureau for a job as the paper's
restaurant critic; Elizabeth Weise of USA Today,
who writes about stem cell research as well as modified
crops and weight-loss surgery, and R.W. "Johnny"
Apple Jr., an associate editor at the N.Y. Times, who alternates
political news coverage with features about meals he has
eaten at offbeat restaurants.
Severson, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, who has no formal
culinary training, told Halloran that "food is much
more of the popular culture than it's ever been.
"There's a different sensibility among editors about
what makes a story. They are increasingly seeing that food
matters in peoples lives as much as the price of oil or
the assault in Fallujah," she said.
Contributing to the spike in interest are the increasing
numbers of younger people and women in the ranks of editors
making these decisions, said Severson.
PR PROS DON'T CARE
IF MEDIA HATE THEM.
PR Fuel's online reader survey indicates PR pros could care
less if media love or hate them.
These were some of the replies to the question: "In
general, do you feel members of the media have a positive
or negative view of PR pros?":
"Love/hate relationship. Need us to feed them
info but find us pestering and annoying."
"In general, I believe they have an increasing
negative view, but ought to be kissing our feet every once
in a while since we help them fill countless inches every
"Depends on which PR flack they are discussing."
"Neither, but as a necessary evil. We serve
them a banquet, they get to determine what they will eat."
When asked how the general public perceive PR pros, one
respondent wrote: "People in the general public think
I work for the newspapers because they see my clients there.
I am constantly explaining to people what I do."
Another said: "The image of the Hollywood publicist
is definitely the predominant one, followed by a White House
"As people who don t mind telling lies for a living,
but who couldn t cut it as lawyers or politicians,"
replied another respondent.
Publications targeting wealthy consumers, such as The
Robb Report, Dwell, Cabin Life, Veranda,
and Luxury Golf & Travel, are growing in number,
according to MediaFinder, an online database of U.S. and
Canadian publications, which is produced by Oxbridge Communications
in New York.
"Niche magazines have mushroomed, and magazines pitched
to the affluent market represent the ultra-niche,"
said Deborah Striplin, editor-in-chief of MediaFinder.
She said financial products and services as well as luxury
products are part of the ad mix.
MediaFinder has information on more than 72,000 titles,
including 15,300 magazines, 11,000 catalogs, 13,000 newsletters,
11,500 journals, 9,400 newspapers, and 3,500 directories
Free online displays of the search capabilities are available
CHARTS NEW COURSE.
Islands Weddings & Honeymoons magazine has changed
its name to Destination Weddings & Honeymoons,
and increased its frequency to four issues a year.
Under the new name, the magazine will encompass not just
island travel, but places throughout the world that can
host a wedding and honeymoon, according to Annette Burden,
who is editor of the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based magazine,
published by World Publications in Winter Park, Fla.
It will continue to focus on the burgeoning travel market.
Of the 2.5 million newly married couples each year, 99%
take a honeymoon. In addition, destination weddings are
the hot trend, enjoying 200%+ growth in the past decade,
according to Burden.
The majority of the content in DW&H will deal with
tropical destination wedding fashion and how-to advice for
planning a wedding.
Burden can be reached at 805/745-7100.
SHEPARD TO RETIRE
AS BUSINESS WEEK ED.
Stephen Shepard will retire as editor-in-chief of Business
Week on April 1, 2005.
He plans to become founding dean of the new graduate school
of journalism at the City University of New York.
Shepard has been editor of BW for 20 years, and has worked
for 32 years for the magazine.
The process for choosing his successor has started, and
Shepard will stay at BW to ensure a smooth transition, a
(Media news continued
on next page)
Edition, Dec. 8, 2004, Page 4
TO MORE EVENT LISTINGS.
The arts editors at The New York Times have decided
to restore two full pages of entertainment listings in the
Sunday edition after receiving a 615-page petition.
Most of the listings that had run in the old Sunday "Arts
& Leisure Guide," which was replaced with a new
feature, called "The Guide," were dropped when
the culture section was revamped.
The petition, entitled "Save the Listings: Restore
the `Arts & Leisure Guide to the Sunday New York Times,"
was sent to executive editor Bill Keller, according to Daniel
Okrent, public editor at the Times.
Okrent said the petition contained 5,000 Internet-gathered
signatures, "many of them accompanied by bits of testimony
from variously beseeching, enraged or tearful" readers
who do not like the new Guide, which runs a list of about
20 events on a single page. That compares to columns of
agate type that had filled many pages of the old A&L
section, with as many as 300 cultural events in a single
While the editors tried to disparage the protest as "commercially
inspired" by self-interested arts presenters and promotors
who are worried that the box office will suffer, Okrent
said they are now "prepared to alter their course."
"I gather that individual listings will soon be shorter,
creating room for events that can t now make the cut. No
one could have enjoyed reading all that agate type in the
old listings, but comments in the petition and my conversations
with readers suggest that most culture consumers would exchange
a little eyestrain for news of more events," he said.
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
Tavis Smiley, who has hosted "Tavis Smiley" for
three years on National Public Radio, is not renewing his
contract. His last scheduled day on air is anticipated to
be Dec. 16.
In a memo to stations, Smiley, who was the first African-American
to host an NPR show, expressed disappointment over not accomplishing
"our goal of seeking a broader, more diverse and younger
audience for public radio."
Smiley will kick off a second season on public TV on Jan.
7 as host of "Tavis Smiley," a national late weeknight
talk show, produced by KCET/Hollywood.
Neal Kendall is executive producer of the show, which books
guests from the worlds of politics, arts, literature, entertainment
was appointed assistant managing editor for Style at The
Washington Post. She succeeds Gene Robinson on Jan.
was named Washington, D.C., bureau chief of The Houston
Smith was previously VP of communications at the Brookings
Institution in D.C., and before that, editor of U.S.
News & World Report; executive editor of Newsweek
and editor of the "Nation" section of Time.
is getting "kid-glove" treatment from the prison
guards at the Federal Corrections Camp in Alderson, W.Va.,
according to Sue Tyburksi, who is the attorney for Roman
Catholic nun Carol Gilbert, who has been dining with the
Gilbert is serving a 33-month sentence on convictions of
obstructing national defense and damaging government property.
NEW TV NETWORK
FOR MUSLIMS STARTED.
The American Muslim TV Network, which was started on Nov.
30, will broadcast from the studios of WNED-TV in Buffalo,
The English-language network, which will target American
Muslims, made its debut with an original news show hosted
by former NBC News correspondent Asad Mahmood.
Muzzammil Hassan, founder/CEO of Bridges TV, hopes the
programs on the new network will improve the image of the
Muslim community around the world.
"Every day on TV we are barraged by stories of a Muslim
extremist, militant, terrorist, or insurgent. But missing
are the countless stories of Muslim tolerance, progress,
diversity, service and excellence that Bridges TV hopes
to tell," said Hassan.
The network will weave news coverage with music videos,
animated children's shows, classic movies and programs about
food, travel and culture.
It will be unlike Al-Jazeera or other controversial networks
beamed from Arab or predominantly Muslim countries, said
Bridges anticipates 50,000 initial subscribers.
Tayie Rehem, formerly of CBC Network in Canada, is executive
producer of Bridges TV, and Jamilah Fraser is program director.
WHY ARE JAPANESE
DAILIES SO POPULAR?
USA Today's founder Al Neuharth believes newspapers
in Japan are more popular than U.S. papers because they
"put more news in their newspapers."
Neuharth said the big Japanese dailies are also "more
reader-friendly and fair," and "more polite in
their editorial comments or criticisms."
Japan's total daily newspaper circulation is 52.9 million
in a country with a total population of 127 million. Total
U.S. daily newspaper circulation is about 55.2 million,
out of a population of 295 million.
The comparative circulations of the biggest dailies in
Japan and the U.S. are:
Yomiuri: 10.1 million
Ashai: 8.3 million
USA Today: 2.3 million
The Wall Street Journal: 2.1 million
The New York Times: 1.1 million.
Edition, Dec. 8, 2004, Page 7
LIZ SMITH RAPS
(cont d from page one)
PR's "iron control of the players themselves has created
a vacuum where rumors, fancies and imagination run absolutely
riot and the line between truth and fiction is utterly blurred,"
expressed sympathy for the "free-wheeling in-depth
reporter out to get the truth (who) is stymied at every
starting point for the Smith column was the recent firing
of Leslee Dart from PMK by Pat Kingsley.
theorizes that the "powerful" Kingsley, after
losing her No. 1 client, Tom Cruise, wanted to show that
she was not "weakened in any way."
theory advanced by "Page Six" of the Post on Nov.
19 was that Simon Halls, a partner in the firm of Huvane
Baum Halls, which was acquired by PMK, helped Kingsley to
make the power play.
possible reason thus far unmentioned by the newspapers is
that parent Interpublic lost a record $587 million in the
third quarter and that IPG may have sent word out to its
many units to trim highly paid executives wherever possible.
Likes Good Old Days'
expressed her fondness for the "good-old/ bad-old days"
when publicists had to supply four newstips in order to
place one item about a client.
are no truly famous bylines anymore because PR types are
more powerful than anybody writing or editing," she
complained. "Magazine editors and columnists alike
go to the powerful PR companies and beg to be allowed to
interview their clients, or even to get a simple question
answered," she wrote.
reversal of roles of PR and editors evens things up but
the relationship is now "intensely adversarial,"
says the columnist.
feels this "overt and sometimes hostile-guarded protection
of stars and stories" is hurtful to the public.
reader of entertainment news is not made richer, nor is
he much enlightened by so much control, spin and political
correctness," she concluded, feeling "the three-headed
dog of spin control (he can look many ways) is probably
here to stay."
PUMPS UP PERSONAL
SIDE OF SHELL.
GCI Group/Los Angeles and New Hampshire-based marketing
firm Gigunda Group are helping Shell Oil Products with a
national campaign to better connect with gas consumers and
bring new ones to the pump.
Walter Thompson is handling advertising for the campaign,
which includes promotional events, incentive programs and
the dispatch of "brand ambassadors" to put a face
on the Shell brand out in the field.
which bills itself as an experiential marketing firm, is
spearheading the effort, its third major project for Shell.
Julie Law of GCI/L.A. told this NL the firm began working
on community relations and PR efforts for Shell in June
and has since handled elements of several campaigns, including
a recent effort to aid victims of Florida's hurricane season.
Fleishman-Hillard is Shell's main outside PR firm.
GRIP' ON AD SCENE.
Martin Sorrell, head of WPP Group which is about to acquire
Grey Global Group and its GCI PR unit, is known for his
"ingenuity and shrewdness" and for being a "financial
he is "also known as a hatchet man when it comes to
improving financials," said the New York Post
Grey staffers are dreading their new parent," wrote
Post reporter Laura Petrecca, who recently joined the paper
from Advertising Age, where she was a senior editor.
C. Feldman has been president and CEO of GCI since 1997.
had also owned APCO Worldwide but the $40 million+ unit
bought itself back earlier this year.
Dilenschneider was replaced as the head of Hill & Knowlton
shortly after WPP acquired its parent company, the JWT Group,
Seltzer, who was president of Ogilvy PR Worldwide, was replaced
by Marcia Silverman in 2002. Christopher Komisarjevsky,
CEO of Burson-Marsteller, is being replaced by Tom Nides
on Dec. 31.
Acting Like Single Agency
Post article emphasizes that WPP, although a holding company
like Omnicom and Interpublic, is increasingly acting like
a single ad agency.
himself takes part in certain pitches and creates groups
of ad agencies to work on a single account, the article
similar point was made by a lengthy feature in the Nov.
29 Fortune magazine.
the holding companies were formed, they promised that their
owned agencies would operate separately and independently
to preserve client confidentiality and promote competition
among the agencies.
is a pro at getting his far-flung holdings to work together,"
says the Post article, which feels that "more than
any of his rivals, (he) uses the holding company as a super
agency that takes an active role in winning new business."
two stories contain similar quotes.
don t regard myself as being a manager, I regard myself
as being a founder," Sorrell told the Petrecca, who
said she talked to him "briefly."
Fortune article, by Nelson D. Schwartz, quotes Sorrell as
saying, "I m not a manager, I m a founder."
story refers to Sorrell as "sir," although he
has a British knighthood. The New York Times, Wall
Street Journal and Advertising Age use the title.
Fortune, the Post sees the acquisition of Young & Rubicam
as being troublesome to WPP.
the article: "In recent years, Y&R has had morale
problems, client defections and management bristling at
Sorrell's tough leadership style."
is part of Young & Rubicam Brands, which is directly
owned by WPP.
reported third quarter revenues of $1.97 billion, up 4%
from the year earlier period. Its debt, according to SEC
documents, is $3.25B. Omnicom has $2.58B in debt; Interpublic,
$2.19B, and Publicis, $4.14B.
Internet Edition, Dec.
8 , 2004 Page 8
Liz Smith's column
(page one) is mostly about PR reps for celebrities
stonewalling reporters but she also faults big biz and government.
She cannot be dismissed as "just a celebrity columnist"
because a lot of PR these days involves celebrities. When
they get into trouble, the companies that sponsor them get
One part of the landscape is that the press, and especially
the business press, has gotten so powerful that it cannot
be manipulated in any major way.
Many large companies
have just decided to cut press relations to a minimum.
It was the Post that led the criticism of Dick Grasso's
pay that resulted in his ouster from the New York Stock
The Post didn t hesitate to call Martin Sorrell of WPP
Group a "hatchet man" (page 7) because his record
is one of cleaning house when WPP buys an agency.
It pointed out that WPP and the other ad/PR holding companies
are operating as single agencies when they promised that
the agencies they purchased would remain separate to preserve
client confidentiality and promote competition.
Clients are being squeezed. Where can they go when virtually
every ad agency (and 50 PR firms) have been bought up by
congloms often at inflated prices? This is why the top five
have long term debt of about $14 billion (a topic so far
uncovered by major media). This debt time bomb could explode
if current minuscule interest rates rise.
Omnicom's stock was $107 on Dec. 17, 1999. It is $81 now.
WPP was $100 in early '99 ($55 now) a nd Interpublic reached
$58 on Dec. 17, '99 ($13 now).
The solution is for PR pros to become "marketing communicators,"
working closely with sales and marketing departments to
better serve the best customers of clients ("customer
relationship management"); going directly to other
discreet audiences such as other customers, investors, local
communities, age/income groups, etc., and opening new markets
via the web and other means. The best PR is a satisfied
When the press calls, PR's job is to roll out a red carpet
and have a brass band playing instead of ducking and not
reporting such calls to the CEO (a practice we believe is
widespread). PR pros could again put on their educational
hats and provide the reporters with important background
and access to executives who can set the reporters straight.
Thomas Martin, VP of
ITT Industries, and president, Arthur W. Page Society,
said the "type of publicity" that Smith refers
to "differs greatly from the type of PR I see practiced
by corporate PR colleagues and Page members."
He said Page principles emphasize telling the truth and
that PR pros who don t answer their phones are not following
such principles. "Enlightened PR people know it is
counter-productive to try and avoid the press," he
said. PR pros must "tell our side in a reasoned and
professional manner," he added.
PRSA president Del Galloway could not be reached via e-mail
or staffers Janet Troy and Cedric Bess for comment about
Speaking of the corporate
PR cold shoulder, we noticed in the seating list
of the "Financial Follies" Nov. 19 of the New
York Financial Writers Assn. that more than 200 reporters
were guests of such companies as Bank of America (15 reporters);
Weber Shandwick (14); Deutsche Bank (13); Kekst and Co.
(8); Manning, Selvage & Lee (10), and Financial Relations
Board (6), to name some.
This is one of the few occasions where financial press
and PR get an evening of important "face time."
Contacts are renewed and expanded.
Oddly, we noticed that Citigroup had two tables (18 PA
people) and not one press guest.
We called it the following Monday but no one in PA would
speak to us nor give us the e-mail address of PA director
Leah Johnson. Same thing happened Tuesday. So we wrote a
letter to her and mailed it.
Citi has plenty it would rather not talk about. Its list
of transgressions caused Fortune Nov. 29 to label it "a
serial sinner, seldom out of the news." Citi has broken
repeated promises to reform itself.
"Scandal-generated" charges cost it $8 billion
alone in 2004, said the article by Carol Loomis, who interviewed
CEO "Chuck" Prince. Its Personal Banking unit
was booted out of Japan in October for "selling unsuitable
and even legally prohibited products," "laxity
in screening customers including one suspected of money-laundering,"
and "general sloppiness." Twelve officers were
fired, 11 had their pay cut and others were disciplined.
Citi execs had to publicly apologize and bow before Japanese
authorities. Persisting in our attempts to reach Johnson,
we obtained a fax number from a staffer and faxed her the
letter Wednesday morning.
Johnson replied by e-mail that Citi PA people spend lots
of time at press functions, including a recent Knight Bagehot
Dinner. She said that by the time of the "Follies"
it was time to give staff a night by themselves.
Has PA been downgraded at Citi? Jack Morris, previous head,
was VP and senior PA director. He joined Citi in 1991. Johnson,
who joined Citi in 1999, was VP-CC at Standard and Poor's
. Citi, said Loomis, repeatedly broke promises by former
CEO Sandy Weill that it would be "more socially acceptable."
Asked Loomis: "Was that just PR?"
Citi's "low-class stock" sells at 12X earnings,
probably because of the scandals, writes Loomis.