Ketchum on alert as Visa USA puts PR brief into play

SAN FRANCISCO - Visa USA is reviewing its PR agency relationship with Ketchum after five years with the firm.

The firm hopes to have the review completed by August, said Janet Yang, Visa USA's corporate relations manager.

Yang would not reveal if Ketchum is participating in the review. She said Visa USA has not conducted such a review in the five years it has retained Ketchum, and that the time had simply come to do so. "It's just good business practice," she said. She would not disclose budget figures for the account.

Ketchum declined to comment for this article.

Visa USA's PR team is led by Barie Carmichael, EVP of corporate relations, who joined the company in October 2001, filling the position vacated by John Onoda earlier that year.

Visa International, which retains GCI Group, is not involved in the review.

The decision comes at a time when Visa and MasterCard are facing the lawsuit brought by such corporate names as Wal-Mart and Safeway.

The suit claims the companies are effectively forcing retailers to accept their branded debit cards.

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