Top lobbyists have gone head-to-head in a fight for a massive PR and public affairs account aimed at improving Russia’s reputation in the UK and the United States.
Public Affairs News can reveal that senior figures from rival agencies have flown to Moscow for talks in recent weeks. The agency teams spoke to Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as the Russian government reviews its communications arrangements.
The total business up for grabs is worth more than £1m globally and a decision is said to be imminent.
The Russian government currently uses an international consortium of Omnicom agencies, including Ketchum, Portland and G-Plus.
The Omnicom agencies had hoped their contracts would be renewed, but the Kremlin has instead opted to look around. In recent weeks, Putin’s spokesman is understood to have spoken to at least two other global consortiums with strong UK public affairs representation.
One senior source said the account was focused on PR, social media and public affairs. “It’s really about winning the battle for public opinion via the media and the parliamentary route,” he said.
The source said that while the account was global in nature, the emphasis was shifting opinions in the UK and the United States: “They are aware of how they are perceived in the West. The problem is most acute in the UK and in the United States.”
The entire account could be awarded to one agency consortium, as is currently the case. Alternatively, the work could be carved up and shared between the global agencies.
A source at Portland confirmed that there had been renegotiations around its account, but added: “We continue our work as part of the Ketchum-led consortium of agencies.”
5th November 2012 by David Singleton