WORLD NEWS 03.11.14
Confessions of a Putin Spin Doctor
This publicist’s firm took millions from Russia to soften its image, but “we were utterly powerless to affect the way the Kremlin news machine works.”
Since 2006, Ketchum, a New York based public relations firm, has billed millions of dollars to the Kremlin to advise and assist Moscow with improving its image in the West. Now, when Russia’s reputation is at its lowest since the cold war, one former employee says the client is probably not getting its money’s worth.
If you go to the website for Ketchum, the Kremlin’s top PR firm in America, you won’t find many clues that the public relations powerhouse represents one of the more loathed regimes on the planet these days. In a section on the firm’s work, the website touts campaigns it has waged for Delta Airlines, Barbie dolls, Cottonelle toilet paper and Haagen-Dazs ice cream. But there is nothing however on Ketchum’s work on behalf of the Russian Federation or the state-owned energy concern, Gazprom.
According to the latest Foreign Agent Registration Act forms filed at the Justice Department, Ketchum billed Moscow for $1.5 million for the second half of 2013.
So what exactly is the Kremlin getting for that money? According to Angus Roxburgh, a former BBC reporter who worked on the Ketchum Russia account between 2006 and 2009, not much. In an interview, he said the Kremlin is definitely getting advice from their PR professionals in the West, it’s just that President Vladimir Putin almost always ignores it.