Back in July, Ken Silverstein wrote an interesting article for Harpers about the how big PR firms in Washington acquire and serve foreign governmental clients. He posed as an agent for a shadowy company that wanted to hire a firm to improve Turkmenistan's image in DC. Under the ruse, he collected proposals and price sheets from the biggest, most well-connected firms.
Although I don't think the article provided a whole lot of new information about how DC firms work ($50,000 monthly retainers! Shocker!), it was interesting to see the whole package and sit in on the pitches. It is definitely worth the read.
Recently, Silverstein was invited to a press event in Washington featuring the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA) by a firm called Bob Lawrence and Associates. Since Silverstein pointed out in his article that "independent press events" are among the tools used by Washington firms to improve their clients' images, he posted a follow-up on Harpers' website (you have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to invite him in the first place).
Who is ACSDA? It's an "NGO coalition" backed by the Government of Azerbaijan designed showcase Azerbaijan's vibrant civil society to outsiders who don't know any better. Bob Lawrence and Associates also coordinated President Aliyev's 2006 trip to Washington to meet with Bush, Aliyev's reward for not killing any election protesters after the 2005 election.