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  Hill & Knowlton

Although it is generally hard to distinguish between public relations and propaganda, Hill & Knowlton, the worlds leading PR agency, represents an extraordinary example for the manipulation of public opinion with public relations activities. Hill & Knowlton did not only lobby for countries, accused of the abuse of human rights, like China, Peru, Israel, Egypt and Indonesia, but also represented the repressive Duvalier regime in Haiti.

It furthermore played a central role in the Gulf War. On behalf of the Kuwaiti government it presented a 15-year-old girl to testify before Congress about human rights violations in a Kuwaiti hospital. The girl, later found out to be the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S., and its testimony then became the centerpiece of a finely tuned PR campaign orchestrated by Hill & Knowlton and co-ordinated with the White House on behalf of the government of Kuwait an the Citizens for a Free Kuwait group. Inflaming public opinion against Iraq and bringing the U.S. Congress in favor of war in the Gulf, this probably was one of the largest and most effective public relations campaigns in history.

Running campaigns against abortion for the Catholic Church and representing the Church of Scientology, large PR firms like Hill & Knowlton, scarcely hesitate to manipulate public and congressional opinion and government policy through media campaigns, congressional hearings, and lobbying, when necessary. Also co-operation with intelligence agencies seems to be not unknown to Hill & Knowlton.

Accused of pursuing potentially illegal proxy spying operation for intelligence agencies, Richard Cheney, head of Hill & Knowltons New York office, denied this allegations, but said that "... in such a large organization you never know if there's not some sneak operation going on." On the other hand former CIA official Robert T. Crowley acknowledged, that "Hill & Knowlton's overseas offices were perfect 'cover` for the ever-expanding CIA. Unlike other cover jobs, being a public relations specialist did not require technical training for CIA officers." Furthermore the CIA, Crowley admitted, used its Hill & Knowlton connections to "... put out press releases and make media contacts to further its positions. ... Hill & Knowlton employees at the small Washington office and elsewhere distributed this material through CIA assets working in the United States news media."

(Source: Carlisle, Johan: Public Relationships: Hill & Knowlton, Robert Gray, and the CIA.

browse Report:
Advertising Industry
-3   Public Relations
-2   PR Firms and their Mission
-1   Public Relations and Propaganda
0   Hill & Knowlton
+1   Public Relations Clients
+2   Public Relations and the Advertising Industry
+3   Cultural Opposition
+4   RTMark and Adbusters at the WTO Conference in Seattle