Public Relations firms draft speeches, prepare leaders for interviews, draft and place articles in newspapers, introduce journalists to members of government and organize trips. And PR firms work to try and stop negative stories from running (or soften them if they do). Whether utilizing lawyers to put pressure, pulling favors or other tactics PR agencies make a difference – and Arab oil money can buy a lot of focus.
There are many firms that should be asked what they are doing to harm Western interests. Bell Pottinger, who has worked for Bahrain (a nation which has spent $32 million on US and UK PR agencies since February 2011); Harbour Group, a Washington D.C. firm working with the new Libyan government; Patton Boggs, who previously worked for Gadhafi and has recruited prominent American academics to praise the Libyan government, are prime candidates. International PR firm Brown Lloyd James worked for Assad and Gadhafi in the past – and they like the other cast of questionable characters won’t comment on their current clients.
The PR industry is a small, tight-knit industry and it isn’t easy for me to write about this sensitive issue. Dictators and Middle Eastern governments pay well – but sleeping well at night and doing the right thing should be more important to the public relations industry.
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