Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Firms Fear Backlash From Williams Case

Public Relations Industry Takes Offensive To Protect Lucrative Federal Contracts

Public relations firms that are paid millions of dollars a year by the federal government to promote programs and policies are worried the money might dry up because of the Armstrong Williams flap at the Department of Education.

A deluge of government business in recent years has helped make Washington a growing market for public relations firms. To protect that market, PR executives are voicing their objections to that kind of deal, in which the commentator was paid to tout Bush administration education policy in television and radio appearances.

If there are any more cases of federally financed payola, Rep. Slaughter will find them. But there is much more at stake than future contracts for D.C. based PR firms. Public relations is based on the existence of a credible, independent press. The news is not for sale.

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