INTERNATIONAL: Crisis comms team to aid Andersen after Enron role

CHICAGO: Professional services giant Andersen has drafted in a team

of PR experts to drive a strategic and crisis communications campaign

following increasing implications of the firm's involvement in the Enron

collapse.



Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, Griffin Johnson Dover &

Stewart, and Ketchum, its PR agency of record, are working as a PR

consortium for the firm.



Andersen was both auditor and consultant to the energy broker, which

filed the largest bankruptcy in US history last December.



That dual role has come under scrutiny as a possible conflict of

interest, prompting questions about practices across the accounting

industry.



Andersen partner David Tabolt, who is acting as the firm's primary media

spokesperson, is responsible for leadership and reputation comms.



He said so far the coverage of Andersen's role has been balanced:

'No-one likes to see the things that are written about our firm,' he

said.



'But on balance, the reporters in this case have been aggressive,

challenging, and have asked tough questions. I have found them to be, in

most cases, reasonably fair.'



He said Andersen, formerly known as Arthur Andersen, is working to

communicate that 'this is a firm that takes seriously its business role,

and is committed to doing the best job right away'.



Tabolt said he and Andersen North America media relations head Patrick

Dorton are trying to be as 'candid as possible' with the press.



Andersen's strategy is to direct the discussion toward a wider industry

analysis of accounting standards.



Andersen CEO Joe Berardino said he also wants to communicate a sense of

responsibility.



Berardino testified before Congress on 12 December, saying: 'I am here

today because faith in our firm and in the integrity of the capital

market system has been shaken. If my firm has made errors in judgement,

we will acknowledge them.'



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