Putin’s Paid Media

Fascinating story by Eli Lake in the Daily Beast today generating a lot of conversation.

 According to the latest Foreign Agent Registration Act forms filed at the Justice Department, Ketchum billed Moscow for $1.5 million for the second half of 2013.

So what exactly is the Kremlin getting for that money? According to Angus Roxburgh, a former BBC reporter who worked on the Ketchum Russia account between 2006 and 2009, not much. In an interview, he said the Kremlin is definitely getting advice from their PR professionals in the West, it’s just that President Vladimir Putin almost always ignores it.

“He does his own PR,” Roxburgh said of Putin. “I can honestly think of nothing that Ketchum has ever done that has actually improved Russia’s image.” Ketchum at one point claimed credit when Putin was named Time’s 2007 Person of the Year. But Roxburgh said the PR firm had nothing to do with it.

“If I sound jaundiced, it may be partly because I have just watched an hour of news on Russian TV, which is whipping up hysteria like I haven’t witnessed since Soviet days,” Roxburgh added. “I can imagine my old Ketchum colleagues holding their heads in anguish — oh, maybe not, since they don’t speak Russian –but they are utterly powerless to affect the way the Kremlin news machine works. This is way, way, way, above even their inflated pay grade.”

Continue reading for more dirt on Ketchum’s contract with Vladimir Putin.