NEW YORK—Burson-Marsteller has responded to the fake news” crisis by creating an internal professional practices committee, comprised of former journalists working at the firm and independent former journalists.

The firm says the initiative is designed to “protect its clients against concerns raised by the rise of so-called fake news and to reinforce the integrity of its own communications activities.” According to worldwide chair and CEO Don Baer, “We want to do everything we can to help our clients combat fake news and to help build a greater attention to news literacy among users of information.”

The professional practices committee will include Eric Benderoff, director and former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor and columnist; Keith Blackman, senior director and former NBC News producer; and Katie Boehret, senior director and former Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist, and former editor at Recode and The Verge.

The firm says it is in discussions with several organizations and individuals to identify independent former journalists and assess how the firm can best assist with communications integrity and news literacy.

They will serve as professional guides to Burson-Marsteller employees and clients on how to prepare in this environment and how to assure the integrity of content. Activities will include:

  • Webinars with Burson-Marsteller clients to share best practices on how best to combat fake news deployed against them and their brands
  • An online forum where clients can pose questions to the committee to assess specific situations
  • Quarterly webchats between members of the Professional Practices Committee and their colleagues in the firm
  • Information on best practices on the firm’s intranet

Mike Fernandez (pictured), the firm’s US chief executive, says the new committee will serve two purposes: “First, we will be protecting our clients against fake news, and second, we will be doing everything we can to make sure that the way we communicate on behalf of clients meets the highest standards of integrity.”

He said that while deceptive communication has been a fact of life for many years, many clients—particularly in the US—have expressed concern about its prevalence and the speed with which it can move. “The reality is the world we live in is hyper-sensitive and hyper-susceptible to fake news.”

Burson is not the only large public relations firm taking the fake news issue seriously. Last week, Weber Shandwick announced its participation in the News Integrity Initiative, a global consortium focused on helping people make informed judgments about the news they read and share online. The Initiative’s mission is to advance news literacy, to increase trust in journalism around the world, and to better inform the public conversation.

Founding funders of the initiative include Facebook, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the John S and James L Knight Foundation, the Tow Foundation, AppNexus, Mozilla and Betaworks.














NEW YORK—Protect Our Power, a new advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening the nation’s electrical grid against potential threats, has appointed Lumentus as its strategic communications firm. Deploying its digital and integrated communications capabilities, Lumentus will work with the group to expand engagement with key stakeholders to support efforts to better protect the nation’s electric power infrastructure.

NEW YORK—HESED USA, the US branding and marketing agency for Frudia, a waterless, fruit-based skincare line developed in Korea, has tapped Bratskeir & Company to handle US media relations for the


NEW YORK—5W Public Relations has been named PR agency of record by Sharestates, an online real estate investment marketplace and an industry leader in crowdfunding for individual and institutional investors.

RESTON, VA—Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf & Spa has selected Buffalo.Agency to design and execute a turnkey marketing program for the 2,300-acre luxury resort on Costa Rica’s northwestern Pacific coast. Integrating strategic consultation, public relations and digital media, Buffalo will amplify awareness of Reserva Conchal with affluent golfers in the US and Canada.


RESTON, VA—TecTecTec, maker of laser rangefinders for golf, has selected Buffalo.Agency to create a North American marketing program. Buffalo will focus on search engine optimization, paid search and digital advertising, content, organic and paid social media, and public relations to add to the raanks of TecTecTec rangefinder users.











MINNEAPOLIS—Julie Batliner has been named president of creative agency Carmichael Lynch. Batliner will continue in her current role as president of PR firm Carmichael Lynch Relate as well. Leading both agencies, Batliner will provide clients with a fully integrated offering.


WASHINGTON, DC—Rasky Partners has added Jessica Tocco to the firm’s government relations team in Washington, DC, as a senior vice president. An Indiana native, Tocco enjoys a longstanding political relationship with Vice President Mike Pence and his team. Prior to joining Rasky, Tocco volunteered on the Trump/Pence Presidential transition team. She previously served as director of the US Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam and director of the Asia Pacific Counsel of American Chambers.

NEW YORK—Finsbury has promoted Sara Evans to partner in the company’s growing capital markets and transaction communications practice in the United States. Evans advises clients on strategic corporate and financial communications, including high profile transactions, shareholder activism, management transitions, corporate governance matters and legal and regulatory affairs. She joined Finsbury in London in 2011, having previously worked in corporate communications at Lloyds Banking Group.










SAN DIEGO—Jack in the Box has promoted Carol DiRaimo to chief investor relations and corporate communications officer. DiRaimo has served as vice president of investor relations and corporate communications since joining the company in 2008. Prior to joining Jack in the Box, she was vice president of investor relations for Applebee’s International.


YONKERS, NY—Consumer Reports has named Matt Anchin as its new vice president and chief communications officer, responsible for communicating the nonprofit's mission and advancing its efforts to reach and engage consumers, companies, policymakers, and the media. Most recently, Anchin was the senior vice president of global communications and content at Monster Worldwide, and before that served as senior vice president of global marketing and communications at Nielsen.











HERZOGENAURACH—Thorsten Möllmann has been named vice president of corporate communications at automotive supplier Schaeffler Group. He will also serve as the Schaeffler Group’s press spokesman, reporting to Christoph Beumelburg, senior vice president of communications and marketing. He previously was responsible for establishing and managing international communications at the Airbus Group and was based in Toulouse, France.
















WASHINGTON — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on Monday launched its new multi-year advertising and public affairs initiative, Go Boldly. The campaign is aimed at highlighting those in the industry driving innovation and pointing to the opportunity that exists in tackling complex health conditions. 


“Thanks to the tireless work of biopharmaceutical researchers and scientists, we have entered a new era of medicine that is transforming the way we prevent and treat disease,” PhRMA president and CEO Stephen Ubl said. “This campaign spotlights their perseverance and unwavering commitment to American patients for whom we all work. We will also be convening events with stakeholders all across the country to discuss ways we can work together to make our health care system more responsive to the needs of patients.” 


The Go Boldly campaign will include national TV, print, digital, radio and out-of-home advertising, and its website,, will offer information about the topics and themes featured in advertisements. PhRMA has redesigned to provide in-depth information about advances in biopharmaceutical innovation. The hashtag #GoBoldly will be used across social media channels. 


The first TV ad, “Do Not Go Gentle,” highlights real biopharmaceutical scientists working to find new cures, and “Cells” highlights scientific advances happening at the cellular level and will be featured in print and digital ads. Throughout the year, PhRMA will introduce new ads focusing on advancements in science and the stories of real researchers alongside patients benefitting from medicines being developed. 


Beyond advertisements, PhRMA plans comprehensive public affairs activities to foster a dialogue with researchers, caregivers, patients and policymakers at forums around the country. Discussions will focus on what the new era in medicine means for patients and the health care system and the types of public policy solutions that are needed to sustain this progress.


“Through partnerships and collaborations with other health care leaders, we will work to advance commonsense solutions that foster the continued development of new medicines, enhance the private marketplace and provide patients with access to the newest and most innovative treatments,” said Ubl. 


Go Boldly will feature three public affairs initiatives:

  • The New Era of Medicine, an initiative from scientists at biopharma companies to foster dialogue on scientific advancement;
  • The Value Collaborative, an effort to engage stakeholders to advance policy solutions to enable the private sector to lead a move to a value-driven health care system; and 
  • Public Health, a public outreach and education campaign centered on critical public health issues in the United States.