Indiana ends pact with Porter Novelli after three months

It hired the firm in April while it was going through a backlash to a controversial "religious freedom" law.

INDIANAPOLIS: Indiana and Porter Novelli have parted ways after the firm was brought on three months ago to help the state’s image after a backlash to a "religious freedom" law passed there.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation ended the contract last week.

Indiana hired the firm in April after a public outcry following a bill Governor Mike Pence signed into law. Critics said the legislation would allow business owners to legally discriminate against the LGBT community. Pence later signed an updated version of the legislation that banned discrimination.

The agency "respects this decision" while the state "recalibrates its resources and spending priorities," Porter Novelli president for North America Brad MacAfee said in a statement. The Omnicom Group agency billed $365,000 for its roughly three months of PR support, according to the IEDC.

The state organization will "focus resources on enhancing existing marketing efforts" touting its progress, it said.

"Indiana continues to make headlines as a state that is attracting and adding private-sector jobs at record-setting levels and is being recognized by national publications for its business-friendly climate," said Chris Cotterill, EVP of the IEDC, in a statement. "We are appreciative of Porter Novelli’s initial guidance that will enable us to redouble our efforts to attract business and tourism to Indiana through current initiatives with local agency support as needed."

In April, local and national LGBT leaders told PRWeek that the state had to go beyond just PR to improve its reputation, noting that it would take legislation protecting members of the LGBT community to make a palpable change.

A representative from Pence’s office was not immediately available for comment.

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