INTERNATONAL: National Rifle Association looks for comms director

WASHINGTON: The National Rifle Association (NRA), proclaimed the

most powerful lobbying force in Washington by Fortune magazine, is on

the hunt for a communications director.



The post includes responsibility for one of the largest war chests in

PR.



In 2000, the group spent £69m on communications efforts, including

advertising. In non-election years, that number dips to a

still-staggering £41m.



The job also includes handling PR for NRA president Charlton Heston, who

has made a screen comeback this year with a cameo role in the remake of

Planet of the Apes.



Bill Powers, who has held the communications director post for the past

four-and-a-half years, defected to NRA agency of record The Mercury

Group earlier this month, where he will serve as executive

vice-president.



The move is something of a homecoming for Powers, who came to the NRA

from Ackerman McQueen, the NRA's ad agency and parent company of The

Mercury Group.



Powers said: 'I'm proud of the role I played in helping move our PR

effort from a very defensive posture with the national media to what I

believe in recent years has been a much more open relationship.



'The benefits of that can be seen in the more fairly balanced and

positive coverage we have gotten in the last year or so,' he added.



Former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart conceded in a recent

Washington Post editorial that any public war waged against the NRA in

2000 was a losing one.



'I pushed hard to put gun control front and centre,' he wrote. 'Put

simply, I got it wrong. At my urging, the White House allowed the NRA to

shift the debate away from common sense safety measures to a demagogic

debate on the right to own firearms.'



Powers said that the NRA will take its time finding his successor.



The NRA took first place in the Power 25 ranking by Fortune magazine,

released in May.



The survey of 2,900 DC insiders was conducted to determine the influence

of more than 80 of Washington's top lobbying groups.



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