The Lure of the ‘Big Name Client’

The past few months have witnessed increased media interest in the motivations of public relations professionals when it comes to accepting consulting opportunities with governments whose actions are, at best, questionable.

The focus has been primarily aimed at the former Libyan government’s ham-handed efforts to spruce up its image while it was under the control of deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

This first came to my attention after The Boston Globe revealed in March that Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm Monitor Group had previously provided the Libyan government “consulting services” designed to present a more “humane” side of the dictatorship — at fees ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While principals of the firm claimed innocence, sadly the appearance of questionable motivation — reinforced by exorbitant consulting fees — smudged the firm’s previously shiny reputation.

Subsequent articles in PR Week UK, The New York Post, HolmesReport and The Hill have drawn even more attention to the Gadhafi regime’s attempts to secure public relations counsel.

The Libyan government, acting through an intermediary, solicited bids from several large public relations firms, both in the U.S. and abroad. Among the services sought were “image management, public affairs and comprehensive media outreach,” according to the HolmesReport.

Further mainstream media reports have highlighted the increased interest among foreign dictators at using public relations firms to spread their own brand of questionable messaging. In August, Salon.com reporter Justin Elliott highlighted the willingness of those whose business it is to provide advice and counsel to accept less than upstanding clients who are able to pay substantial fees for these services.

Read the entire article at PSRAY.