Top PR News and Updates: Putin and the Pentagon and More!
Ex-Pentagon Contractors now working for Putin
The Trans Regional Web Initiative, run by the Pentagon supporting the U.S. Military in their efforts against terrorists and extremists fighting for Iran, Islam, China, and Russia has been cutting back on their efforts – at least, when it comes to the Russians. So, that leaves a few talented American communicators looking for work, and guess who’s hiring – none other than President Vladimir Putin’s publicity and propaganda efforts – here in the U.S.
48-year-old editor, Zlatko Kovach is one of those talents, and he now runs the DC office of Sputnik, a news service doing their best to compete with the Associated Press and Reuters. Kovach has been joined by three other fellow ex-Pentagon contract workers, though only one of them remains. Sputnik continues efforts to fill their ranks. Kovach is the only one who has been willing to discuss this matter, but you can bet there are a lot of other talented people who are looking for jobs or filling them currently.
Kovach is a graduate of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and he speaks six languages. While under contract for the Pentagon, he worked for General Dynamics running the Southeast European Times (setimes.com), a multilingual site aimed at the Balkans.
Their purpose while working for the Pentagon was to “influence foreign audiences’ emotions, motives, objectives, reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, groups, and individuals in a manner favorable to the originator’s objectives.” Many in power felt their efforts were mismanaged and were hardly ever incorporated into other efforts. When they shut down most of the program, it saved an estimated $22 million. But many see the resulting loss of talent to possible opponents as a problem with the national defense strategy.
Robert W. Reilly, a former director of the fed’s civilian international broadcasting arm, said, “What seems to be clear is that the anti-status quo powers in the world today – Russia, China, Iran, and the Islamic State – know the value of information warfare and invest heavily in it.”
Drumfire Public Affairs in DC – New office opened by Aaron Saunders of Dezenhall
Dezenhall Resources, former EVP and COO, Aaron Saunders, just opened a new public affairs firm in Washington DC – Drumfire Public Affairs. Their offices are located on NW K Street only a few blocks from the White House.
Saunders struck out on his own after many years in the industry, including a rare feat – serving as communications director to both a Democrat and Republican – Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Ak.). After his time working for Senators, he spent the past five or so years at Dezenhall Resources, where he was in charge of day-to-day efforts and overseeing 15 staff members serving as crisis specialists, often working with Fortune 500 companies. He brought to the new firm Kathryn Davis Rodriguez from Dezenhall to be a director at Drumfire.
Drumfire was just founded by Saunders in 2016, and they offer services including ally mobilization, media relations, spokesperson training, and issue management.
Feinstein McGuinness Public Relations & Getty Images sued for Breach of Contract and Fraud
Marz Sprays makes vitamin and mineral infused oral sprays. They also recently paid for the right to use an image of Jennifer Love Hewitt in their advertising from Getty Images dba Wireimage but were then confronted with a lawsuit from Ms. Love Hewitt for using her image without her consent. Marz did the only thing they could, filed suit against Getty and Kari Feinstein and Michael McGuiness – their business was known as Feinstein McGuinness Public Relations.
Marz’s attorney Arthur Aaronson told Courthouse News that, “Small businesses pay thousands to get photos of celebrities using their products, but then celebrities come out of the woodwork to say, ‘Hold on, we don’t like that.’ It’s a real problem.”
According to the lawsuit, the PR firm invited Marz to participate in a May 2012 “gifting suite” called Style Lounge, where Marz rented a booth. The promoters brought in various celebrities to try businesses’ products for free. Marz paid a significant amount to FM, who reportedly hired Getty Images to photograph the Style Lounge. Getty represented they had the right to license the photos that Marz later used.
Marz’ suit says FM “conspired with Getty to hustle these photography packages,” but they didn’t actually get permission from the celebrities for usage of the photos. Marz only found out the photos weren’t authorized when Love Hewitt’s attorney demanded the photos be removed from their website. Even after they removed the images, she sued them, causing damage to their reputation and ability to do further business with existing contacts.
Before the Love Hewitt lawsuit, which was later resolved in a friendly manner, Marz were featured on “Shark Tank” and had wholesale accounts established with Walgreens and Walmart. “When [the] lawsuit was filed, everything came to a screeching halt. Hopefully they will survive. But we just don’t know,” Aaronson stated.
FM closed their doors in 2012, but both Kari Feinstein and Mike McGuinness have continued separately. Both operate in the Greater Los Angeles area. McGuinness indicates he currently owns the Co-Op, a PR and communications firm – he’s got more than 10 years’ experience in PR, much of it specializing in event planning and actualization.
Kari Feinstein PR is a full-service PR firm offering help with celebrity outreach, launches, talent booking, digital campaigns, community management, advertising, and more. Her firm appears to offer Style Lounges still, with the next one centered around the Oscars theme and happening February 25-26th. Some of the companies she works with include Vitamin Water, Coppertone, Superdry, and Tacori.
Stephanie McMahon has new PR representation
If you know the WWE, you’ll know the name, McMahon, for a couple of reasons, first there’s Vince, the founder of the group and master marketer. You should also know Stephanie, daughter of Vince, wife of HHH, and beyond that, she’s been making a name for herself for several years. She’s worked almost every job there is at the WWE, including general gofer and on-air talent, but she’s also the Chief Brand Officer.
The WON reports the WWE hired a major PR firm to represent Stephanie exclusively, helping to put a friendly face on the WWE and add to the charitable efforts Ms. McMahon is interested in developing. The new PR firm arranged for her appearance on Good Morning America recently. You can watch that at youtube. One thing that’s interesting … in all the reports of this new AOR with a PR firm, no one has yet mentioned which firm has been signed. We look forward to hearing more.