WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently hired Hill & Knowlton to handle Middle East and Asian outreach on behalf of the organization's external relations team.
A contract for a second agency is expected to be signed within the next two weeks, according to Masood Ahmed, head of IMF's external relations.The other firm will primarily handle outreach in Africa and South America. The one-year contracts combined will be worth between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Ahmed said the IMF has previously worked with PR firms on a project basis but not in such a “systemic” way, and that the contracts are part of a general effort by IMF to cut costs in all area of operations through outsourcing. In the area of PR specifically, the IMF external relations team had previously sought to do media and stakeholder relations out of its headquarters in DC.
Duties of the IMF's new PR agencies include development and dissemination of “core messages” of the IMF for distribution to the media and the public using various means, including increasingly in blogs and other online venues, according to its 2007 communications strategy, which bidders were referred to in the RFP.
“The message that came back, including from an evaluation done by our office, was that the communication we were doing, particularly in Africa, we needed to explain better how the Fund was pursuing macroeconomic growth for the countries,” Ahmed said. “There were many stakeholders whose information was coming from critics rather than knowledge of what we actually do.”
Overseeing the H&K contract will be Dan Morrison and Kathie Boettrich.