About a month ago, I wrote about the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) selecting one of the world’s largest (and most expensive) PR firms, Burston-Marsteller, to help market the state. Previously, that contract had been the sole territory of the Integer Group, a Des Moines based PR and advertising firm.
The key selling point to IDED was the fact the Burston-Marsteller’s efforts to market the state would be spearheaded by a local affiliate, Larson-Shannahan-Slifka Group, headed by Chuck Larson, Jr. and Karen Slifka, long-time Iowa Republican operatives.
But the fallout was immediate, with many PR and marketing leaders in Iowa questioning the wisdom of moving $3 million of the total $6 million contract to Burston-Marsteller. Those leaders questioned the cost effectiveness of using such a large, out of state firm, and one with little or no serious ties to the state. In addition, Burston-Marsteller is headed by Mark Penn, who was a chief strategist to both President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton during her presidential bid.
Well now we hear of an additional cost of moving this contract from Integer, and it’s a serious black eye for Governor Culver, IDED, and the Larson-Shannahan-Slifka Group.
As the Des Moines Register reported on June 4th, Integer cut 19 of its 160 Iowa employees in large part due to the splitting of the contract between Integer and Burston-Marsteller.
Now, I doubt that I’m the only one who sees the irony in this matter. A PR giant with a so-called local Iowa affiliate is awarded a contract from the Iowa Department of Economic DEVELOPMENT to market the state for new jobs and new businesses. The immediate fallout is that 19 people lose their job.
That’s a helluva start Larson-Shannahan-Slifka Group in its economic development efforts for the State of Iowa.
Maybe those 19 people who just got their pink slips should apply in person to the offices of the Larson-Shannahan-Slifka Group. As former advertising and PR execs who previously managed the IDED account, their experience would be substantial.
My guess is, however, that they’d be met with the stone cold faces of Chuck Larson, Jr. and Karen Slifka, who have no authority to hire anyone to help them on any aspect of this effort. The suits in the New York offices of Burston-Marsteller would laugh in Larson’s face if he were to propose picking these people up, and he knows it. Larson and Slifka will wring their hands and moan about the loss of jobs…and then run to the bank to cash their checks.
You gotta hand it to Culver. He believes that everyone has a price. People like Larson and Slifka prove his theory right.
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