ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control has chosen Fleishman-Hillard, Ogilvy, Porter Novelli and Prospect Associates as its four 'preferred' PR vendors.
The selection means that the four firms will get first crack at CDC business over the next five years. Given the organization's extensive PR budget - some say it approaches millions of dollars annually - this will mean a steady flow of business for the agencies chosen.
Befitting a government agency, information about the selection process has been extremely guarded. But one insider said the process was lengthy and extremely thorough. 'They weren't about to take any chances,' the source said. 'It was a rigorous screening process.'
CDC spokespeople declined comment, saying that the agency search had not yet been completed and no contracts had been signed. While they refused to confirm the reported multi-million PR budget, they acknowledged that 'we have a very pronounced need for PR' and that the reported figures were 'in the ballpark.'
Sources at all four of the agencies denied comment, admitting only that they had auditioned for the 'preferred partner' role and that they were waiting on the CDC to make its final decision, expected next month.
One agency source said the CDC is currently circulating 23 RFPs - not an unusually high number for the organization - and that each of the preferred vendors will get more than its share of business.
The Atlanta-based CDC, which staffs nearly 8,000 employees in 170 locations worldwide, is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.