CITGO bolsters outreach

HOUSTON: CITGO in recent weeks has boosted its dedication to media outreach, as well as running print and TV ads throughout the US, to stem negative reaction to anti-US statements by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, whose government holds a 50% stake in the company.

HOUSTON: CITGO in recent weeks has boosted its dedication to media outreach, as well as running print and TV ads throughout the US, to stem negative reaction to anti-US statements by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, whose government holds a 50% stake in the company.

The ads and both proactive and reactive media outreach are intended to complement a previously launched campaign called "The CITGO Story: Get the Facts," emphasizing the company's US roots, its donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and other good works, said CITGO senior public affairs specialist David McCollum.

He said CITGO's response began in October, based on "misinformation" reported by various outlets following an announcement that 7-Eleven had ended a supply deal with CITGO.

Contrary to some reports that 7-Eleven's decision was based on statements Chavez has made at the UN and elsewhere calling President Bush "the devil" and "Mr. Danger," the end of the supply deal was a mutual business decision, McCollum said.

"You throw in the UN remarks, the 7-Eleven news, and then a market realignment [we did] because of an overextension, and some people were reading more into it than there was," he said.

Long-time CITGO firm Barkley Public Relations has not done any of the PR for this effort, but did develop and manage placement of the recent ads, which will run through 2006.

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