14-year old Ahmed Mohamed says he wants to be an inventor. But Ahmed took a homemade clock with him to school on September 14th, saying later that he wanted to show his engineering teacher just how much he understands the concepts. Unfortunately, all the wires and computer board sticking out of his bag reminded several of the teachers more of a bomb. And the trouble began.
Police were called in, and they isolated Ahmed while they tried to figure out what was happening. Police say Ahmed was less than forthcoming while he was there. He’s 14 and having police questioning him on his own may have been terrifying enough to shut him down emotionally – or there may be more sinister issues. That response didn’t serve him well with the police. It took them awhile to sort out that it was a clock. Many still believe it may have been meant to appear as a bomb – referring to it as a “hoax bomb.”
Others are outraged at the response calling it discrimination. The Mayor of Irving said several of the teachers and police officers have received death threats.
Supporters of Ahmed gathered on the grounds of the school one evening in a rally to support Ahmed and call for his suspension to be lifted by the school.
Since the event, Ahmed has hired Universal Media Group in Dallas to handle this high-profile crisis communications situation as his PR firm. Dallas attorney, Thomas Bowers is representing Ahmed.
Universal Media Group is a full-service PR and advertising firm with offices in Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and London. They focus much of their work on the advertising side, but they also do branding, media placement, online, and digital work for clients. They specialize working with clients in the medical, home furnishings, jewelry, B2B, automotive, and apparel industries, but have the resources to be of assistance to anyone.
Still, they make no bones about primarily being an advertising agency, creating stories and generally paying for “air” time. So it is interesting that when it came to this particular client, they went with an “advertising” firm rather than a more traditional PR firm. Considering the lawsuit that has since been filed (see update), using an ad firm may provide a way to keep a tighter control on information being released to the public on behalf of the client.
In the Dallas area there are good local pr firms:
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Suzanne Parsonage Miller is CEO and founder of the firm that opened in 1999. Their work focuses on promoting and protecting iconic food, franchise brands, retail, lifestyle, and restaurants using strategy, social media, media relations, spokesperson training, and crisis management. The Wall Street Journal featured their “No Jerks” policy at the core of SPM’s culture. Basically, they create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect with employees, leaders, and clients.
Some of their clients include Taco Cabana, P. F. Changs, Main Event, Newk’s Eatery, and Austin Footwear Labs. They are part of the IPREX network so have access to help clients even on global campaigns if needed. and Ms. Miller was listed on PRNews’ Top PR Women’s list. Their headquarters are in Dallas, but they also have an office in Austin.
Mike Crawford founded the integrated advertising and PR agency in 1986 with the sole purpose of working with technology companies. It was a new approach and for 20 years they stuck exclusively with the techies. But in 2006 they diversified, beginning to work with B2B and B2C companies of many types, especially focusing on insurance, government, energy, retail finance, security, health, and entertainment companies.
Some of their clients include CommScope, Hudson and Marshall, Texas Instruments, Chuck E. Cheese, and Privus Mobile. After 28 years in business, they have over 100 clients.
Champion Management Group
Champion is a smaller agency founded in 2002 and has approximately 10 employees. They are based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area and they work with entertainers, corporations, and not-for-profits. The agency was founded by Ladd Biro and has been dubbed “the fastest growing PR firm in the restaurant industry.” Though it should be noted, their clients are in many industries including sports and entertainment, food service, high tech, event production, hospitality, and commercial equipment.
Some of their clients include Texas Land & Cattle, Cici’s Pizza, Joe’s Crab Shack, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, and Spree Wearables. One of their first campaigns after opening to business was the 10-10-220 campaign where they placed Hulk Hogan.