Tunheim plans response amid Allina controversy

MINNEAPOLIS: Beleaguered PR shop GCI Tunheim is preparing a public

response to recent criticism from the state attorney general about work

it did for healthcare system Allina.

The agency is considering holding a public forum with experts from

outside the state to discuss the role of PR in a crisis situation.

"My interest is that PR take the high road on this," said Kathy Tunheim,

who sold her agency to GCI earlier this year and now runs GCI


The agency was recently taken to task in an article in City Pages, a

local alternative newspaper. But another story in the local city

magazine Mpls.St. Paul said early reports were inaccurate in saying

Tunheim pried into reporters' personal lives looking for ways to

influence media coverage of Allina.

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has been attacking Allina, trying

to get it to split its hospital system from its health insurance

operations - a move the company has now made. Hatch recently disclosed

documents detailing Allina's use of Tunheim to garner favorable media


A local PR source said the controversy could chill PR firm relationships

with clients. Knowing that internal documents could be made public might

cause companies to think twice about how much confidential information

they give PR firms. "It certainly is cautionary for the PR industry as a

whole," the source said.

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