Breakfast Briefing, 3.3.2017: WPP says competitors offering discounts for trade magazine glory

As WPP reported its slowest revenue growth since 2012, the world's biggest holding company accused competitors of trimming fees to win accounts and burnish their own reputations in the trade press.

WPP PR firms down in Q4, up for year
Like-for-like net sales at WPP’s PR and public affairs firms were down 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016, with the figure in North America down more then 2%, but up more than 7% for the full year. The world’s largest holding company said Cohn & Wolfe "performed particularly well," while Ogilvy Public Relations and Hill+Knowlton Strategies also showed improvement. Burson-Marsteller was "less buoyant," according to WPP. All marketing segments included, the fourth quarter was WPP’s slowest by revenue growth since 2012, and shares were down 8% this morning on the report. Fun tidbit: WPP claimed in its extensive earnings report that competitors are cutting back on their fees to boost their "image in trade magazines."

White House staffers looking over their shoulders
Reuters: Trump administration aides are increasingly paranoid as top officials try to stop staffers from dumping information to the press. In particular, political appointees are tightening their grip on the White House’s classified computer platform to prevent other aides from seeing memos prepared for the president. Homeland Security aides told Reuters they believe a "witch hunt" is underway to find the leaker of a memo stating there is no greater risk from citizens from the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban than other nations.

Speaking of a ‘witch hunt.’
That was President Donald Trump’s term of choice for what he believes is happening to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in a late Thursday afternoon press conference from any investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Sessions told senators during his confirmation hearings that he had no contact with Russian officials during the campaign, but The Washington Post revealed this week he met with the country’s ambassador. In what could be a comms strategy shift, Trump released a short statement supporting Sessions Thursday night, then Tweeted out the same message in sporadic intervals in his first topical tweets in four days.

How’d Snap do on its big day
Well. In fact, very well. The parent company of Snapchat saw its stock jump 44% on its first day of trading, closing at $24.48, considerably higher than the initial price of $17. Its market value of more than $28 billion puts it in the same class as Target and CBS Corporation, according to Reuters.

Uber tries to get back on its feet
The ride-hailing platform, in the middle of crises over claims of widespread sexual harassment within its walls and a video of its CEO throwing a fit going viral, has applied for permits to get its self-driving cars back on California roads. The company tried to test the self-driving cars in the state late last year, but the state DMV revoked their registration.

And finally, that sound you hear is Democrats’ heads hitting their desks
Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account for state business while he was governor of Indiana, according to a Thursday night report in the Indianapolis Star. He was also hacked last summer, around the time crowds at Trump rallies were chanting "lock her up" about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. And in what might’ve been a truly damning revelation during a presidential election, the Star revealed Pence uses an AOL account. 

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