WorldCom intensifies DC comms to improve standing with Congress

WASHINGTON: WorldCom is sharpening its PR efforts in the nation's capital in hopes of shoring up support as it faces increasing legislative hostility.

WASHINGTON: WorldCom is sharpening its PR efforts in the nation's capital in hopes of shoring up support as it faces increasing legislative hostility.

Hill & Knowlton, brought in to help rebrand the beleaguered company in April, along with

sister group Walker & Wexler Public Policy Associates, and lobbying firm Patton Boggs have been meeting to discuss new means for turning around the company's image in the Washington, DC area.

The company had previously worked with APCO Worldwide on a project basis, though the firm is reportedly not involved in the current effort.

A WorldCom spokeswoman confirmed that the company was, "as a normal course of business, working with groups that will help strengthen our position in Washington...because it's where we are headquartered." Others involved in the effort confirmed that they were working with WorldCom to improve its reputation with legislators.

The company, which is currently going through a process of changing its name to MCI, filed the largest bankruptcy claim in American history last year after admitting to criminal accounting practices.

Since then, several members of Congress have introduced efforts that could make life

difficult for the company. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has launched an investigation into its federal contracts, while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is challenging the company's efforts to shed $35 billion in debt by filing for bankruptcy.

Among the efforts being considered are a "war room" in WorldCom headquarters where agency reps and company staff can quickly and aggressively field media calls. The company's 55,000 employees are reportedly being asked to write letters of support to their members of Congress as well.

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