Andersen Turns to Hartz for Help with Enron Issues
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Andersen Turns to Hartz for Help with Enron Issues

Michelle Hartz, former senior VP at Weber Shandwick Worldwide and now president of her own Virginia-based firm Hartz Consulting, is already working with Anderson, and more PR help may be on the way.

Paul Holmes

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14—Accounting giant Andersen—the former Arthur Andersen—is reportedly looking to recruit crisis management and other communications experts as it faces mounting criticism for its role in the collapse of Enron. Michelle Hartz, former senior vice president in the Washington office of Weber Shandwick Worldwide and now president of her own Virginia-based firm Hartz Consulting, is already working with the company, and more PR experts should come aboard soon, according to a report in this week’s National Journal.
 
Damaging revelations about Andersen’s relationship with Enron have emerged slowly over a period of months, breaking one of the cardinal rules of crisis management: that companies should get all their bad news out at once. The worst stories came last week, after the company acknowledged it had destroyed a large number of Enron documents. Now Andersen is facing Congressional investigations, a federal criminal inquiry and lawsuits from shareholders that could cost it billions of dollars.
 
On Sunday, The New York Times ran an article headlined “A Tattered Andersen Fights for Its Life” in which it quoted J. Edward Ketz, director of the M.B.A. program at Pennsylvania State University, who said: “Things look very bleak for Andersen. There’s a chance that they go under on this one.” The company did not respond to questions for the article.
 
Andersen’s PR agency of record is Ketchum, which helped introduce the firm’s new identity and position it as a “Partner for Success in the New Economy.”
 
In December, Hartz was responsible for a press release issues on behalf of the big five accounting firms (KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Andersen) addressing the Enron debacle. In a joint statement, the five said they recognized the importance of a “strong, diligent, and effective [accounting] professin” to maintaining confidence in the capital markets and pledged “to develop specific recommendation to the SEC for improved disclosure” and “to streamline and modernize” the process of accounting standard setting.”
 
The firm has also added two major lobbying firms to help it with the government investigation: the Duberstein Group and Griffin Johnson Dover & Stewart.
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