INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Chronicle chooses Ketchum to help it shedquirky image

SAN FRANCISCO: The San Francisco Chronicle has appointed its first

PR manager and enlisted Ketchum Public Relations to structure a relaunch

it hopes will put it in the same league as The New York Times and The

Washington Post.

The paper tapped Joe Brown, a former Washington Post reporter, to serve

as PR manager. He was most recently the Chronicle's community relations

manager. In his new role, Brown will report to marketing director Patty


Ketchum's San Francisco office will oversee the Hearst-owned paper's

renewed PR effort. According to Brown, the agency triumphed over a

handful of competitors vying for the high-profile account, though he

declined to name any of the other firms. The budget for the account was

also not disclosed.

Both Brown and Ketchum are focused on turning around the image of a

daily that is widely held as an unconventional journal rather than an

esteemed news outlet.

'For a long time, the Chronicle has been seen by lots of people as a

quirky, offbeat and not quite serious newspaper. And the image was even

further hampered by the Hearst purchase and the trial,' said Brown,

referring to the controversy surrounding Hearst's acquisition of the

Chronicle and the subsequent sale of San Francisco's other major daily,

the Examiner.

'But we have made some very real improvements to the editorial and

design, and now our job is to get the message out that this is a

newspaper to be taken seriously,' Brown continued.

The impending PR blitz will center on the April 29 debut of a new Sunday

edition - a substantial overhaul including an added commentary and

perspective section and a new lifestyle section with emphasis on the Bay


The changes were precipitated by the results of focus groups and reader

surveys showing that readers were not making emotional connections with

the existing Chronicle.

Executive editor Phil Bronstein recently admitted to the San Francisco

Business Times that the editorial upgrade was designed to address a

decades-old 'credibility deficit.'

According to recent circulation figures, the Chronicle's daily

circulation has climbed to approximately 530,000 in recent months.

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