Posted by Amanda Chapel
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
This just in to the news desk... apparently a group of activists posing as PR people have injected themselves into the Louisiana State Government. Posing as a staffer from the mega-PR firm Hill and Knowlton, a member of the activist group "The Yes Men" was able to book a fellow activist as a featured speaker at a major press event there.
The event featured Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin discussing rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Impersonating a representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the activist announced that local housing developments that are slated for demolition, would be rehabilitated instead. The activists contend that the condemned housing will be replaced with various housing out of financial reach to previous occupants.
The Times Picayune reported that a group of journalists later huddled around the fake HUD officials - the H&K imposter posed as the HUD officials' press secretary - asking questions about the policy reversal. Some news organizations sent out breaking news alerts before learning it was a fake.
This was part of an ongoing effort by the The Yes Men. The group practices what they call "identity correction". They pretend to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations, accepting invitations to appear at various symposiums and TV shows. They use that platform then to express their belief that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public. The Yes Men have posed as spokespeople for organizations such as The WTO, Halliburton, McDonald's and Dow Chemical.
According to our sources, Hill and Knowlton learned of the ruse from federal officials. Gene Reineke, COO for H&K U.S. said, "These hoaxers have absolutely no connection to our firm."
We are not yet sure how Reineke was able to conclude that the impostors were not actually staffers. Word is that Reineke would probably like to hire those guys.