NEW YORK: Hill & Knowlton is the latest PR firm to form a global
practice area devoted to lessening fears about the spread of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and the equally insidious foot-and-mouth
The fears have prompted a rush for PR counsel by a range of
Along with the beef industry, pharmaceutical, food, plastics and
cosmetics companies are concerned. H&K is working with three clients -
one new, two existing - to help plan responses to government regulation,
as well as consumer and media interest.
'This has become one of three or four global public affairs issues.
There is a lot of confusion about the regulatory environment,' said Paul
Taaffe, H&K worldwide president.
H&K's move follows Edelman PR Worldwide's decision to set up a similar
unit, which it is calling the Mad Cow Monitor. The practice has signed
three new clients, all of whom did not wish to be named.
Likewise, Burson-Marsteller works with both the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association and McDonald's (for which it is agency of record) to
educate the public about BSE and related diseases. As part of its
approach, the agency established www.bseinfo.org in January.
'We've been working with the beef industry in the hope of giving out
some basic information,' said Carina Bates, Burson's Chicago-based
director of marketing.