Owning 5WPR, one of the 25 largest US PR Firms, I am never amazed at the inquiries that we receive. Having worked for Lebanese (anti-Syrian) interests, the Moroccan Tourism Ministry, Iraqex to manage American interests in Iraq, and other Middle East concerns, over the past few months, we have received discrete contacts from official and unofficial government liaisons concerned about managing, influencing (and manipulating) media coverage.
This increased volume of confidential inquiries made me wonder which public relations firms are making millions working for anti-Western interests as radical Islam spreads throughout the Middle East. It wouldn’t shock me if one of my competitors is working with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he arrives in New York this weekend to an avalanche of press coverage. Ahmadinejad has shown he understands the power of the press, and my experience tells me it is surprising to have that level of understanding of media without advisors. I wonder who is assisting Syrian President Assad this time around as he remains in power in the bloodiest battle the war has seen in years?
In America, all public relations entities who represent foreign governments, political parties and government-controlled entities in a “political or quasi-political capacity” are required to disclose their clients due to FARA laws (Foreign Agent Registration Act). But if the reporting is done to a 3rd party, or a non-government entity is paying the bills the laws are less clear. Many PR interests are multi-national corporations who skirt disclosure issues via international contracts – and throughout Europe there are no regulations for PR firms.
In time, we will find out there are many anti-West interests who are using PR agencies during these trying times. Many of the political Islam leaders, from the government of Egypt, which is now controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, to the ongoing slaughter and bloody battles in Syria, Libya (where the American ambassador was recently killed), and the ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain – sophisticated interests are undoubtedly managing media coverage.
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