BURLINGTON, VT: DCI Group was caught in a case of mistaken identity earlier this month when a Vermont Democratic Party official wrongly accused Republican Gov. Jim Douglas of hiring the public affairs powerhouse to promote the state as business-friendly.
The official, Democratic Party executive director Jon Copans, confused DC-based DCI Group with Development Counsellors International, a New York-based firm that specializes in economic development and tourism PR.
Development Counsellors officials joined the governor for a press conference on November 2 to announce a $375,000 business promotion contract.
Later that evening, the Associated Press ran a short article incorrectly noting that the state had contracted DCI Group. State Democrats criticized the firm's ties to the Republican party and the tobacco industry.
In 2004, DCI Group hired Stuart Roy, former communications
director for Rep. Tom DeLay. After learning about the PR contract, Copans evidently researched DCI Group on the web, then issued a statement with the headline: "Douglas Imports Culture of Corruption
Upon realizing the mistake, Copans quickly issued an apology,
satisfying Development Counsellors' concerns about its reputation. DCI Group, however, was not as sanguine about the controversy.
"This is a drive-by partisan attack that was not only reckless but factually incorrect," DCI Group VP Adam Mendelsohn said.
"DCI is a full-service public affairs firm, with over a hundred employees and a roster of blue-chip Fortune 50 clients. We have a team of professionals that are Republican and Democrat."
The episode "told us to beware of Google," said Rob DeRocker, EVP at Development Counsellors. "One of our guys who actually works on the [Vermont] account has been a real advocate for us to spend
money on search engine optimization. And he may have a better audience now."