NEW YORK: As Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares for a fall trip to New York, the Russian government has hired Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) to handle the nation's positioning in the United States.
The account, a seven-figure deal when annualized, will have the transatlantic agency's New York office promoting Russia's business and political reforms, investment opportunities and culture. The account picks up with preparations for Putin's participation in a UN General Assembly session and his visit to Camp David, scheduled for later this month.
It could turn into a yearlong campaign much like the one BLJ's London office has already been working on, according to EVP Mike Holtzman.
"Russia is in a very interesting period in its history, coming out of the Cold War and forging an alliance with the United States after years of estrangement," he said. "They're very keen to make sure these ties are nurtured, and they recognize public relations as one of the ways to do that."
BLJ will be tasked with media relations and positioning with opinion leaders, as well as coordinating events with Putin and other Russian leaders.
"There's a high signal-to- noise ratio during the General Assembly," Holtzman said. "There are a lot of leaders in the country, and they recognize that PR can help them cut through the clutter. There's also a general sense that Russia needs to -as most countries do - promote the changes and things that are occurring at home abroad in order to spur investments and interest."
This is one in a succession of delicate times in US-Russian relations. Though Russia vehemently opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is asking the
UN to play a greater role in the occupation, a change that would require the approval of Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council. Russia has called for a greater UN role in the occupation.
Russia has been accused of being soft on organized crime within its own borders. An
opinion article in August 27's International Herald Tribune took Russia to task for not
handing over Victor Bout, the fugitive arms dealer, to international authorities.
"This only emboldens Russian organized crime groups and shadowy elements of the Russian leadership to continue to seek closer ties with rogue regimes," the article read. "The Bush administration has been willing to overlook the growth of autocracy in Russia in exchange for Moscow's cooperation in the campaign against terror. But Russia could be doing far more and the Bush administration could be doing more to compel greater Russian cooperation. It's time to force Putin's hand."