Breakfast Briefing, 10.31.2017: The 5 spookiest stories PR pros need to know on Halloween morning

Third-quarter earnings were more of a treat for Cohn & Wolfe than other shops at WPP. Plus: how one prominent public affairs shop got caught up in yesterday's indictment of Paul Manafort.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell

WPP PR revenues down in Q3. WPP is the third major holding company to report a revenue drop for its communications firms in the third quarter, following disappointing periods for Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group. The holding company’s PR and public affairs shops saw a 1% like-for-like revenue dip in the quarter.

Not a PR firm anymore. However, Cohn & Wolfe was quick to point out that it is on track for organic double-digit growth this year. And this quote from C&W CEO Donna Imperato is sure to raise some eyebrows: "I don’t really think you can call us a public relations agency anymore, in terms of the way traditional marketers have always viewed our industry."

Mercury mentioned in Manafort indictment. The grand jury indictment of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort released yesterday mentioned an unnamed "company A" and "company B" as two public affairs shops brought on by Manafort and deputy Rick Gates to lobby on behalf of the Ukrainian government. Company A refers to Mercury Public Affairs, according to NBC News, and Company B is the Podesta Group. A Mercury partner told Reuters the firm is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

It’s about to be a very bad week for big tech. Facebook has released eye-popping numbers about the reach of Russian propaganda on its network ahead of top tech CEOs appearing on Capitol Hill. The social network said that 126 million Americans, or more than half of the American voting public, may have seen propaganda produced by a Kremlin-linked group from mid-2015 to mid-2017, according to CNN. The staggering numbers are a far cry from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s brush off of the issue shortly after the 2016 election.

Happy Halloween! Now don’t eat that. Black licorice is evidently having a reputation crisis. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the candy this week, pointing out that some ingredients may cause a drop in potassium, according to Fortune. Best to stick to the red stuff. 

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