Washington PR firms cashing in on BP spill
By Garance Franke-Ruta
As the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf continues, beleaguered international oil firm BP is beefing up its communications apparatus and turning to some of Washington's best known lobbyists and public relations pros.
The latest addition: the bipartisan corporate communications firm of Purple Strategies. Helmed by former Bush strategist Alex Castellanos and Democratic media consultant Steve McMahon (whom some may recall from his days cutting ads for former Vermont governor Howard Dean), the company is behind BP CEO Tony Hayward's Thursday advertisement seeking to repair the company's image -- and his own -- according to a report in CNN, where Castellanos is also an on-air contributor. BP approached Purple Strategies last week about taking on the work, ABC reports.
Hayward calls the spill a "a tragedy that should never have happened" and apologizes to those affected by it in the Gulf region in the ad (above). "I'm deeply sorry," he says and promises, "We will make this right."
Other Purple Strategies clients have included PhRMA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Also handling public relations for BP in Washington is its long-time firm the Brunswick Group, whose District office is helmed by Hilary Rosen, another CNN contributor.
The Feehery Group, led by John Feehery -- who was for six years chief spokesman for Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and now appears often on CNN -- is also doing work for BP, CNN said.
BP's new head of U.S. media relations has political ties, as well; Anne Womack-Kolton, the 2004 campaign press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney, stepped into the post Tuesday from her position as a director at Brunswick Group.
As previously reported by The Post, lobbyists doing work for BP include "a Who's Who of the profession, from Democratic powerhouse Tony Podesta to former Reagan aide Kenneth Duberstein."
June 4, 2010; 11:06 AM ET
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