MOSCOW--Ketchum is in negotiations with the Kremlin regarding the renewal of Russia’s global PR mandate with the firm, amid reports that a new agency search may take place.
Ketchum secured the lucrative account in 2006, and has since worked to build a better international reputation for Russia. The firm heads an international consortium that also includes sister Omnicom agency Gplus in Brussels, and Portland Communications in London.
The Holmes Report understands that the multimillion dollar contract expired earlier this year, at the end of May. Ketchum continues to service the business, and is locked in negotiations regarding, it is thought, a one-year renewal, amid a significant restructuring of the country’s communications activities.
The contract is overseen by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov. However, sources informed the Holmes Report that the government has been reorganizing its communications approach since Putin returned to government earlier this year.
“They are looking at their comms differently and I think in a more progressive manner,” said one executive familiar with the situation. “Putting more resources into a new structure.” It is understood that new communications units and positions have been created under Peskov.
Peskov confirmed the contract expiry in the Russian media, which has reported that a new agency auction is set to take place.
The assignment, thought to be Moscow’s first with a Western PR agency, began in 2006 when the country chaired the G8 Summit in St Petersburg.
A Guardian report in 2009 noted that 50 staffers worked on the business in G8 countries. It is thought this number is higher now, taking into account all staff members working on the account, worldwide.
One of the key components of the campaign is the Modern Russia online platform, which seeks to “examine the economic and social modernization of Russia”. The firm’s work for Putin has, however, been criticised.
Ketchum chairman Ray Kotcher declined to comment.