PR begins to play a role in new war

New York and Washington: Last week, the PR industry took its first

official steps toward playing a significant role in America's war

against terrorism.



The Rendon Group signed on with the Department of Defense to help

explain the goals of the American military campaign overseas, a message

many critics say the government is failing to convey to the public. The

contract, awarded on a non-competitive, sole-source basis, is worth

almost $400,000 over four months, and has the option to extend

for a full year.



Rendon's familiarity with the region was likely a contributing factor to

its appointment. During the Gulf War, the agency represented the Kuwaiti

royal family and its Ministry of Information.



Meanwhile, the Council of PR Firms has offered its hand to the Ad

Council, which is currently running domestic spots to reassure Americans

and provide practical advice such as how to talk to one's children about

terrorism.



The two organizations have discussed the possibility of working together

on an overseas campaign to increase American sympathies in the Arab

world.



Talk of such a campaign began when Charlotte Beers, US under secretary

for public affairs and public diplomacy, signaled that she may employ

the Ad Council to create an advertising campaign to run on the

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network. Beers has yet to make any formal

announcements regarding her intentions, however, and both councils

agreed that no overseas campaign could take place prior to her doing

so.



"We believe that public relations has an important role both

domestically and internationally in building understanding of what the

US government is doing and why they're doing it," said Jack Bergen,

president of the Council of PR Firms.



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