Ketchum likely to join forces with law firm for consultingalliance

NEW YORK: PR firms and law firms often disagree about

communications, with PR people arguing for more talk, and attorneys for

more silence.



But workplace law firm Jackson Lewis is talking to Ketchum about a

possible alliance, Chris Atkins, partner/director of Ketchum's global

corporate practice, has confirmed to PRWeek.



Atkins said discussions were delayed by September 11, but he expected to

announce an alliance agreement early next year.



"We've definitely discussed how the alliance would work, and the kinds

of things we would do," said Atkins, adding, "It would be premature to

go into any specifics on it."



Margaret Bryant, Jackson Lewis spokesperson, said no one at the firm

would comment on the talks. The 40-year-old firm has 20 offices in the

US.



Julie Freeman, president of the International Association of Business

Communicators, said she is surprised by the concept of a PR-law

alliance.



"In my experience," she said, "the aims and the mindset of legal people

are diametrically opposed to PR people. My opinion is it would be an

uneasy relationship, but it's a little difficult to comment without

knowing the nature of the relationship."



The alliance would further benefit Ketchum's two-year-old workplace

communications and change management practice, buoyed this past April

when Ketchum bought New York-based Stromberg Consulting, a management

consulting firm that specializes in change communications.



In favor of PR-legal alliances is Michael Petruzzello, managing partner

of Qorvis Communications, a two-year-old PR and public affairs firm

partially owned by law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs. Petruzzello said

the firm's ability to internally weigh legal and communications concerns

benefits clients.



"We help our clients avoid that tug and pull where a CEO, instead of

managing a crisis, has to play referee with his different consultants,"

he said.



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