WASHINGTON: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has tapped Ogilvy PR to provide real journalists for its biennial mock terrorist exercise, known this year as TOPOFF3.
Ogilvy will pick six journalists to cover the simulated attack, which will take place in Connecticut and New Jersey April 4-8. Additional activities will take place in the UK.
The firm placed ads on JournalismJobs.com last month to recruit prospects.
Ogilvy SVP Kamer Davis said that the media play a critical role in the exercise, designed to test national preparedness in a wide range of areas.
"If you're going to do a real [simulation], you need to have a cadre of journalists," he said.
Robert Mathias, managing director of Ogilvy's DC office, said that the firm has been aiding TOPOFF since the first exercise, in 2000.
Media personnel chosen to participate cannot currently be accredited to a news organization and must sign a non-disclosure agreement not to divulge any information about the exercise.
DHS spokesman Marc Short said that journalists will cover the simulated disaster as part of "VNN," the Virtual News Network. They will interview public affairs officials as well as new DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
"It's imperative that public affairs be pushed to the furthest extent," he said.
Journalists chosen will begin mid-March and will earn around "a couple hundred dollars" a day for the exercise, according to Short.