Saturday, January 08, 2005

The question that begs to be asked: Has Ketchum put any winger bloggers on the payroll? 

You remember Ketchum—the PR firm that the Republicans used as a cutout to funnel winger blowhard Armstrong "I am not a house boy" Williams $250,000 of taxpayer dollars, so he would propagandize for the No Child Left Behind Act while posing as an independent commentator? (Josh Marshall; Chicago Tribune; USA Today) Of course you do.

Not that there's anything remarkable about either the Bush administration using your money for propaganda, or breaking the law (here) to do it. In fact, that's all standard operating procedure for these guys:

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said that the administration's efforts make her "extremely nervous and uneasy."

"At first I thought it was an aberration, but now -- certainly with the Education Department -- it appears to be a pattern and I'm definitely wondering who else is on their payroll," she said.
(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

So are we, Lucy. So are we....

Anyhow, Ketchum is a sharp, forward-thinking outfit, and here are their views on the blogosphere:

What do you consider the next steps that public relations must take to ‘own’ blogs and be able to most effectively use this medium for companies and clients [like the Republican Party]?

Adam Brown: I think there is about to be a shakedown with blogs. Advertising is trying to own blogs the same way it took ownership of the Internet. But the way information is shared on a blog isn’t appropriate for advertising. Advertising is about a call to action. PR is more about information transfer and information sharing. It’s about changing someone’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions and perceptions of a company, product or brand. And that’s what blogs are about. I think we need to take the initiative and demonstrate what blogs are best suited for. Blogs are for information transfer, and PR is about information transfer, and that’s why the two go together.

Nicholas Scibetta: That’s a great point. PR has a snug fit with blogs. And we as practitioners need to embrace blogs wholeheartedly. We need to really dig deep to understand what the mindset of bloggers is and what we can do to foster mutually beneficial relationships with them. We are, as Adam said, different from advertising in terms of the call to action and the straight sell. The truth is you couldn’t have asked for a more organic development of a tool to emerge to suit the objectives of PR.

Um, "mutually beneficial" like $250,O00 worth of beneficial?

So, the question begs to be asked, doesn't it?

Has Ketchum already "taken the initiative," and are they funding anyone in the right-wing blogosphere?

I mean, the very same PR firm the Republicans have hired for a disinformation campaign says they want to "own" some blogs. Maybe we should take them at their word, and ask if they already do?

UPDATE In fact, maybe you'd like to ask Ketchum yourselves! Adam Brown, Nicholas Scibetta, and Ray Kotcher, CEO.

UPDATE Oliver Willis is all over this story.

UPDATE Alert reader Nancy asks:

Do you count paid Trolls in this? I am convinced some sites are targeted.

Nancy: Yes. I always thought the GOP Team Leader points were sufficient to account for troll infestations, but given the Armstrong story it makes sense that the trolls would be bought and paid for.

UPDATE Via ta at Loaded Mouth, Instapundit says he's virtuously declined "substantial amounts" to author OpEds. So, the money's out there. I wonder if all the wingers have been as pure-minded as InstaPundit?

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