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
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
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
'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
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.'