WASHINGTON: It would now seem that even those who manufacture the
money don't have enough to go around.
The US Mint has indefinitely suspended all communications contracts with
the private sector to accommodate shrinking budget projections.
Consequently, both Fleishman-Hillard's and Hill & Knowlton's DC offices
have seen seven-figure campaigns evaporate.
The Mint's budget crunch can be attributed to the economic recession,
said spokesman Matt Kilbourne. "We're showing a pretty significant
reduction in coin demand for the coming year," he explained. "Last year,
we made about 27 billion coins." This year, that number will shrink to
about 16 billion. Because the Mint makes its money from selling coins to
the Federal Reserve, it will have considerably less to spend in
H&K, which has handled PR for the Mint's state-themed quarter campaign
since the spring of 2000, was forced to lay off eight people this month
after learning in October that its $10 million, 10-year contract
was no longer operable.
Fleishman has run the Mint's gold Sacagawea dollar campaign since 1999,
a piece of business worth more than $1 million to the firm
annually. No employees have been let go as a result, but several have
had to be repositioned.