APCO Or Weber Shandwick For India’s PR?

APCO Worldwide PR

APCO Worldwide and Weber Shandwick are in the running for another big PR campaign according to news from India. The Upcoming Vibrant summit in 2011 is an event which the Gujarat state government need to go over big this go around, and according to the reports the number two and three PR firms in the world are atop a select list of “pitchers” for the job of presenting Gujarat as the investment place to be.

This state, the Western most in India, is hot to reveal its investment worth to the world, and judging from some of the negative press they have gotten, their new PR firm may have their work cut out. Gujarat, with almost 60 million people, is a market for labor and consumers about as large as any European country, but diverse ethnic background and terrorist activity there make it a “hot spot” until leaders can quell unrest or the potential for it.

Modi addresses the masses

Modi addresses the masses

The 2009 summit raked in something like $240 billion in investment promises, so obviously there are high expectations for the 2011 variant on the theme. Other contenders for the job of telling the world about the summit include; Grey Worldwide, Blue Lotus, and Vaishnavi, among others. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the face of Gujarat, just received a “lift” from APCO, but the Times Of India seems none too convinced by their efforts.

Some 45 countries participated in the last summit, but organizers obviously intend to engage even more via what has been termed; “hard-selling the event world-wide.” According to the recent India Times report on Modi, the focus on foreign investment (FDI) would seem to be the paramount bargaining chip for the Minister and his contingent there in Gujarat. However, Modi and some of his constituents have yet to be able to distance themselves from the horrible riots which took place in 2002 under their watch. Also, sources in the troubled state reveal that Modi’s application for a Visa to the US has been denied as well. From an investor standpoint, and on of a PR firm ourselves, gaining investment dollars in this case seems a little like putting the cart before the horse. Though providing jobs and security for the people there would certainly alleviate the strain in these economic times.

APCO competitor Grey Worldwide, a nice site!

APCO competitor Grey Worldwide, a nice site!

Hot Dogs and Health Care

We have reported several times of late on APCO and Weber Shandwick’s enterprises. Without going on a rant about the testicles of big PR, I suppose it is justifiable to say these massive communications firms reach pretty far afield in shaping the way so many people think about things. I respect them for their abilities and intellect, but sometimes wonder at the depths to which large organizations can appear to sink. The Oscar Meyer/Mommy Blogger thing for WS, and the lobbying of APCO against Obama’s health care initiative being in the forefront of my “opinionated” view of them.

apco riotsPainting on canvas to anyone’s tune is just not my idea of how to run a business I guess. PR for me, as for any business, will always deliver black and white clarity in a world of gray areas. I suppose people and entities of an unimpeachable character have less need for PR than the other varieties? One can only hope that whoever represents this state in India, might sway the leaders there away from human rights abuses. Now that would be great PR. Do that, and I will personally sing whoever’s praises to the end of time.

The fourth edition of the summit held in January 2009 fetched investment promises to the tune of $243 billion, which was huge in an economic downturn. About 45 countries participated in the summit this year. The target countries for the next edition are US, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. “The brief is that Gujarat has to be marketed not just as an ideal investment destination but in terms of human development happening here,” said an official


  1. Sye says

    Modi and Co’s blood soaked hands cannot bring prosperity to Gujarat in the long run. The noose is tightening on them if the law(justice) prevails until then. He may not be even CM of the state, leave alone PM of India. Signs have already begun.

  2. Venkat says

    Dear Phil

    Great article. There is a lot of information on Narendra Modi on the Coalition Against Genocide website including letters from several US Congressmen condemning Modi and urging the US State Department to keep a close watch on him. The website is at:


    A few months back, the Indian investigative magazine Tehelka.com sent in a reporter in the guise of a Hindu nationalist and was able to get video recorded confessions of Modi’s top hed honchos claiming how they ripped open wombs of pregnant Muslim women and threw away the fetus into fire and how Modi transferred several Judges to protect them. A link to that investigative report including the video confessions are at:


    Click on the above link and check out the “Transacripts” section of the conspirators.

    Some important transcripts as well as their videos on Youtube are:

    Devil’s Advocate
    (Transcript of Gujarat Advocate General Arvind Pandya confessing to protecting the perpetrators of 2002 Gujarat massacres, captured on a hidden camera by Tehelka Magazine in a recent expose)
    VIDEO CONFESSION: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9KlevWeYrE

    “After Killing Them, I Felt Like Maharana Pratap”
    (Transcript of Babu Bajrangi’s confessions caught on a hidden video camera by Tehelka Magazine in a recent expose)
    VIDEO CONFESSION: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfnTl_Fwvbo

  3. Indian First says

    Promoting Modi’s Gujarat is like promoting Nazi Germany of Hitler.
    I can imagine a title of one of the PR’s to bring in bio-science companies to Gujarat:
    “Come to Gujarat, where you have free access to experiment with human bodies of minorities”

  4. Guj says

    Wat Modi did for the state is not comparable for achieving the highest growth rate in the world.

  5. SANAT says

    Gujarat is the most progressive state of my MAHAN BHARAT. what Gujarat does to day, whole nation will follow it tomorrow.Shri Narendra Modi is the future P.M. of my Mahan Bharat….

    if muslim people don’t like INDIA…they must get out of my Mahan Bharat. we are progressive minded people, we are going forward, & U R going backward…..SANAT.

  6. Khan says

    Thank You Phil for bringing out this story, we in the Indian American Community have been struggling to find ways to highlight to the larger American community the ethnic cleansing and HR abuses of minorities in the state of Gujarat under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Revocation of Modi’s US visa in 2005 was a great step by US State Department.

    Recently FDI magazine reversed its decision to honor Modi at its summit in UK, under pressure form activists (see links below).

    There are couple of cases pending in Indian courts that are slowly (7 years, phew!) tightening the noose on Modi.

    I greatly appreciate your article and hopefully APCO and Weber will make an ethical/moral decision to not promote Modi and his complicit state administration. They certainly risk their reputation in the long run by supporting Modi/Gujarat.





    • Phil Butler says

      Khan, Thanks so much for coming to enlighten our readers about this. To be honest, and in all transparency, you know as well as I do that from a reporters point of view, determining these things can be very hard and time consuming. So it is that we often cannot say exactly what we want to, but rather have to rely on our senses and the news gleaned in as short time. My personal opinion is that many PR firms would represent Jack The Ripper if he had enough money. I cannot say much more about this leader, but I assure you I will investigate this to the best of my ability and then let the chips fall where they may. I am good at it too.

      As for these PR firms, your advice is the same as mine. This is especially true of Weber Shandwick as they have a superlative reputation here in the Internet world (for PR firms that is). For us at Everything PR, we believe stringently that we have a duty to people how have little or no voice, at least up until the time they get one. For me, I have developed a particular affinity for the plight and successes of the people in India out of my off hand reporting on events there. A very interesting culture and society, all-be-it one that needs some help.

      Thanks again, and please feel free to send us anything which might further enlighten the world community.

      Phil Butler

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