Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Local DC P.R. firm suffers Orange hiccup

By Aussiegirl

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about a local PR firm who got
into a bit of an Orange kerfuffle over its bragging about the role it
played in developing a website used by the Yushchenko campaign. Obviously
there's not much news if we have to pay attention to something as
inconsequential as this -- but as the press loves a tempest in a teacup
-- here's the Post's take on an otherwise incidental bit of a hiccup:

PR Firm Caught in Worldwide Web of Bad Press

In early February, Scott Johnson, a partner in a small communications
firm called Rock Creek Creative, issued a news release touting the
company's role in the Orange Revolution -- the public protests that led
to the election of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in December.

Johnson said he hoped the release would lead to "a nice local
story" about the Bethesda company in one of the local newspapers,
perhaps focusing on how a Web site the company designed had become the
"virtual freedom plaza for the democracy movement" in the former Soviet

The release did catch the attention of news editors.

Just not in Bethesda.
Within hours, a Russian government news agency seized on Rock Creek's
release as proof that the United States had meddled in the Ukrainian
presidential election.

. . .For a PR company, it was a PR disaster.
"People [in Ukraine] were talking about it immediately. . . . The
commentary in the Ukrainian media was 'What the hell are they talking
about?' " said Taras Kuzio, a Ukrainian scholar who teaches at George
Washington University.

. . . "The policy is do the work and don't talk about it," said Robert
Chlopak, a partner with Washington crisis management firm Chlopak,
Leonard, Schechter and Associates. "There is no such thing as a local
audience anymore."

. . . Public relations experts said Rock Creek ran afoul of one of the
most basic principles of the trade.

"Rule number one: You shouldn't embarrass your client," said Helio Fred
Garcia, a professor of management and communications at New York
University who runs a crisis communications firm. "Even when you
credit, you should not crow about it without your client's permission."


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