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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Nov. 19, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 46 (download PDF version)


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CASH-STRAPPED CYPRUS INKS $1.1M PR PACT

Cyprus, which Merrill Lynch says may be the first country to exit the Eurozone, has signed Podesta Group to a $1.1M one-year contract to improve its image in the U.S.

The Cypriot banking sector is on the verge of collapse, triggering protracted bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

Cyprus is slated to hold presidential elections in February. Current left-wing president Demetris Christofias has announced that he will not seek re-election.

Podesta Group’s $90K a month retainer contract calls for working the Obama administration, Congress, think tanks, universities, media, and grassroots groups on behalf of Cyprus.

The firm’s Cypriot government relations team is headed by Tony Podesta and Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State and Policy Director for then-Majority Leader Bill Frist.

PG also has a five-member communications unit, which is led by former Washington Post foreign correspondent John Ward Anderson, working the account.

U.S. BISHOPS MOVE TO BOLSTER PR

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, under pressure to reform after Catholic voters bucked the bishops’ criticism of the Obama administration in this month's election, has moved to shore up its PR efforts.

At the Conference’s General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14, bishops voted 202-25 to hire a director of public affairs as part of a reorganization of its communications unit.

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the Conference, said the new post will be aimed to develop a more “international, focused, comprehensive and unified communications strategy.”

The director will be empowered to speak on behalf of the bishops to the media, he added, noting the position with work with the secretary of communications, Helen Osman, as well as Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary.

The Conference-owned Catholic News Service, part of its PR department, said the cost of the PR revamp is around $400K a year, compared with the group’s $220M annual budget.

SHAKY EUROPE BATTERS HUNTSWORTH

Poor economic conditions in Europe battered London-based Huntsworth as third-quarter revenues declined 3.6 percent compared to a seven percent growth spurt a year ago, according to financials that it released Nov. 15.

Flagship Grayling, which generates the bulk of its revenues in the U.K. and the Continent, suffered a 7.6 percent revenue decline, while financial communications specialist Citigate Dewe Rogerson suffered a 17.2 percent revenue plunge.

Huntsworth Health and Red consumer shop bucked the downturn, reporting revenues upswings of 6.8 percent and 11.4 percent, respectively.

Overall, Huntsworth CEO Peter Chadlington expects full-year profit to be ahead of last year, though “at the lower end of market expectations.”

GADDAFI PR FIRM FILES CHAPTER XI

The Monitor Company Group, which took heat for its work on behalf of Libya’s former leader Col. Gaddafi, filed Chapter XI bankruptcy on Nov. 7 and arranged a takeover of its assets by Deloitte Consulting.

The Cambridge-based operation officially terminated ties with Libya and Jordan on July 1, 2011, receiving $6.7M in fees/expenses from Gaddafi's government from October 2006 to January 2009, according to its late Justice Dept. filing. (MCG also reported an $871K payment from Jordan).

In its federal filing, MCG said it arranged personal meetings with Gaddafi for bigwigs such as Richard Perle, President Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Defense and noted neoconservative pundit; Francis Fukuyama, political scientist and author of “The End of History & The Last Man,” and Benjamin Barber, ex-advisor to Bill Clinton.

There also was a panel discussion organized by David Frost to discuss the application of the philosophies of Gaddafi’s Green Book to modern Libya. Fukuyama, as part of his compensation, received copies of Gaddafi's Green Book for use in his political science course.

MCG also maintained ties with Larry Weber’s Racepoint Group, which received a $300K fee for PR services.

Under the merger deal, Monitor is joining with Deloitte’s strategy and operations practice.

MCG said the “recent economic downturn” forced it to evaluate its strategic options, a process that found Deloitte to “be not only the right strategic match, but also provided the opportunity for substantial short-term and long-term growth as well as opportunities for its employees and clients.”

The Deloitte deal is subject to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., regulatory approvals and whether a best offer emerges.

Gaddafi was murdered on Oct. 20.

SMITH ENTERS PETRAEUS FRAY

The woman who allegedly received harassing emails from the biographer of Gen. David Petraeus has enlisted crisis guru Judy Smith for PR support as the scandal churns.

Jill Kelley, a friend of Petraeus who is a volunteer in military support endeavors in Florida, has been identified as the target of emails from Paula Broadwell, the biographer believed to have engaged in an affair with Petraeus.

Kelley has hired Smith for PR and attorney Abbe Lowell.

“We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over 5 years,” Kelley said in a statement from Smith. “We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”

Smith, a well-known crisis pro who repped Monica Lewinsky and disgraced Sen. Larry Craig, among others, runs Smith & Co. in D.C. She is also the model for the character of Olivia Pope in ABC’s drama “Scandal.”

 
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