Wow, talk about bad public relations.
The Center for Public Integrity today released a study, “The hired guns who advocate for the world’s worst human rights abusers” – a research report which analyzed the public relations agencies who make the most money representing clients that violate human rights.
The study noted that records at the United States Justice department revealed that “that the 50 countries with the worst human rights violation records have spent $168 million on American lobbyists and public relations specialists since 2010. The countries included in the analysis were those with the worst scores on the human rights indicator of the Fragile States Index, an annual report published by the nonprofit Fund for Peace, which measures the vulnerability of nations.”
Leading the pack, according to this study is Omnicom owned Ketchum PR who made $37 Million Dollars representing human-rights violators, followed by Qorvis Communications/MSL Group at $20.6 Million dollars. Rounding out the top 10 included Squire Patton Boggs, Podesta Group ($7 Million), Glover Park Group at $5.6 Million and more.
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) is “an American nonprofit investigative journalism organization whose mission is “to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first.” The organization won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Qorvis/MSL Group was slammed for representing the nation of Equatorial Guinea, a country which has one of the worst human rights records in the world according to numerous studies. The MSL Group client represents the nation which has a major problem with human trafficking – and helps to shield them from negative world pressure.
As a human rights attorney asked of this work, “Are they enabling a dictatorship to exist and to get away with atrocities? Without a doubt. That’s exactly why they’re hired.”
The report indicated that the Publicis Group owned company has issued reports praising the country, including a headline reading “Equatorial Guinea Reports Significant Reduction in Poverty and Improvements in Health.” Shamefully, MSL Group/ Qorvis Communications has also worked for Libya, Bahrain and Sri Lanka – other nations with terrible human rights records. The firm lost more than a third of their partners in 2011 as a result of their work with shady countries – which has included work for Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks.
Ketchum PR was slammed for representing Russia and “its government-owned natural gas company, Gazprom, who paid Ketchum more than $40 million from 2010 to 2014..”
Also, of note, the report indicated that Squire Patton Boggs received “$11.7 million received from contracts with human rights violators since 2010. It currently represents China on Capitol Hill in trade and security issues and consults with the Cameroonian government on the State Department’s reports on human trafficking and human rights. The State Department pointed out Cameroon’s use of torture on detainees, lack of fair trials, and poor prison conditions in its annual report.”
The fascinating report also mentioned Podesta Group, and Glover Park Group as companies representing human rights violators.
This article sits alongside our articles on Public Relations for terrorists, which detailed how Brussels based think-tank, Corporate Europe Observatory released a report “Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes” detailing the work for terrorists.
When a Bell Pottinger executive “…was grilled by a committee of British MPs who asked him, “You’ve worked for mass murders, racists, people who’ve oppressed their own people…. Doesn’t the public have a right to know who your clients are?”, he replied: “The public has no right to know.”
When Ketchum PR and MSL Group go about to recruit employees, one wonders if their HR Department shares the great work they do for countries trafficking in horrific human rights violations. Even more ironically, Ketchum issued a press release today saying they are a great place to work. One wonders if its “blood money” or just slave money.