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Spin or Advice in NOLA? USACE Pays Huge Price in New Orleans

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Georgianne Nienaber       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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There is a big difference between a government cover up and news spin. The former is a strategic plan to prevent a scandal from going public. Think about Watergate, which concerned hundreds of illegal actions on the part of the Nixon administration to cover up a burglary which involved government espionage. Public Relations spin, on the other hand, is what politicians, corporations, and the government do on a daily basis to convince you, the public, to see the world through their interpretive lens. Spin may be disingenuous, it may be manipulative, and it may shade the moral truth, but it is not illegal. Something happened in New Orleans yesterday that certainly involves spin. When Sandy Rosenthal of the citizen and watchdog group Levees.org discovered that the New Orleans U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hired consultant PR firm Outreach Process Partners (OPP) to fine tune its public image to the tune of $1 million  and posted a link to their campaign, the OPP website morphed to a new version within four hours. They basically "spun" their own credentials to look, well, less manipulative of public opinion.

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Image: Sandy Rosenthal

Here is a look at the information presented on the original web pag at 3:30 pm CST:

US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Media Support Services

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As part of a three-year public relations support contract (October 2007 to September 2010), OPP is providing on-site media relations (both local and national media), public meeting support, a complete overhaul of the Corps' Web site, communications strategy development  and video support services.

The Corps of Engineers has endured intense scrutiny in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  In the face of adversity, OPP has worked arduously alongside the exceptional team of government personnel to deliver the Corps' message of rebuilding the Southeast Louisiana system quickly, safely and to a higher standard.

Media Support: OPP provides media support for print, broadcast and Internet media on local, national and international levels including outlets such as the Times-Picayune, WWL-TV CBS New Orleans, Associated Press, USA Today, The Weather Channel, The Today Show, French TV Channel 5, and Engineering News Record on issues such as Hurricane Gustav, "paper in the floodwalls" and other investigative responses, seepage, peer review and the state of the hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system.  As part of this cause, OPP fosters strategic relationships with media outlets that result in more accurate and balanced stories.

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Disaster Assistance: OPP provides round-the-clock staffing to handle media queries for the New Orleans USACE - with staff evacuating to Division headquarters in Vicksburg, MS, with blackberries, laptops and Internet air cards in a disaster.
 
Interviews: OPP has facilitated a myriad of interviews about the rebuilding of hurricane system levees and interim risk reduction structures. Our team members have facilitated in-depth interviews with producers and hosts of The History Channel and MTV.

Results: OPP's media support has been a fundamental part of the transition from typically negative news coverage to more neutral and positive news coverage. This effort has also resulted in multiple awards including: The Corps of Engineers was selected for a 2009 Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Award for their work on the Bonnet Carre Spillway Opening  OPP was selected for a New Orleans Chapter PRSA 2008 Award of Merit  




Here is the web page at 7:00 PM CST after the criticism from levees.org:  

US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Media Support Services


As part of a three-year public relations support contract (October 2007 to September 2010), OPP is providing on-site media relations (both local and national media), public meeting support, making the Corps' Web site more user-friendly, communications strategy development and video support services.

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The Corps of Engineers has endured intense scrutiny in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  In the face of adversity, OPP has worked arduously alongside the exceptional team of government personnel to deliver the Corps' message of rebuilding the Southeast Louisiana system quickly, safely and to a higher standard. OPP's assistance is geared toward helping the Corps answer stakeholder and media queries that involve technical information in a format that is available and accessible to a non-technical audience.

Results: OPP's media support has resulted in multiple awards including:
The Corps of Engineers was selected for a 2009 Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Award for their work on the Bonnet Carre Spillway Opening
 
OPP was selected for a New Orleans Chapter PRSA 2008 Award of Merit - Borrow Strategic Communications



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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)
 

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