Weber Shandwick

Profile: Weber Shandwick

1- Name of NGO:

Weber Shandwick

2- Brief & Mission:

Weber Shandwick is a strategic communications and consulting network comprising specialized creative, marketing, communications, and consulting firms designed to address the intersections of society, media, policy, and technology. This marketing communications firm was established in 2001 through the merger of the Weber Group, Shandwick International, and BSMG.

Based on a disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Weber Shandwick has been engaged in work for the Saudi Arabian government since 2016.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

Weber Shandwick is a worldwide public relations firm with a presence in Brussels. The firm has been involved in various projects for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including the promotion of KSA’s Vision 2030 economic reform plan and the defense of its human rights record. Weber Shandwick’s services encompass a range of public relations activities, including media relations, crisis communications, and social media management, in support of these initiatives.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

Weber Shandwick’s association with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has indeed attracted substantial attention, primarily because of its extensive participation in projects conducted on behalf of the KSA government. This highlights the influential role that Weber Shandwick plays in advancing political objectives through its partnership with the KSA government. These dynamics also underscore the lasting relationships that Weber Shandwick has established with KSA’s leadership, underscoring the firm’s active involvement in political initiatives within the nation.

5- Sources of Funding:

Weber Shandwick’s contractual relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was not without compensation; the firm received a substantial amount from KSA for its services.

6- Activities:

Weber Shandwick’s work for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has included:

  1. Organizing a media tour for the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
  2. Producing a documentary focused on the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 economic reform plan.
  3. Managing the social media accounts of the Saudi government.
  4. Addressing and managing responses to criticisms and concerns regarding the Saudi government’s human rights record.

7- NGO Leadership:

Gail Heimann served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Weber Shandwick. Susan Howe was the President of Weber Shandwick.

8- Controversy:

Weber Shandwick’s work for the Saudi government has not been without controversy, as some critics have alleged that the firm may be involved in efforts to downplay or minimize the human rights issues associated with the Saudi government. In response to these allegations, Weber Shandwick has defended its work, asserting that its role is to provide the Saudi government with a platform to convey its messages and objectives. This controversy raises questions about the ethical responsibilities and considerations that public relations firms face when representing governments with contentious human rights records.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website: https://webershandwick.com
  • Address:Brussels
  • Email: enquiryapac@webershandwick.com

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The involvement of Weber Shandwick with the Saudi government indeed raised profound ethical concerns, prompting substantial examinations into the roles and responsibilities of public relations firms when working alongside authoritarian regimes. This episode has emphasized the necessity for heightened scrutiny and the establishment of robust ethical guidelines within the public relations industry. This is especially critical in situations where firms are tasked with advancing the interests of governments with contentious records in areas such as human rights and governance. It serves as a crucial reminder of the ethical dilemmas inherent in the PR industry and the importance of ethical conduct and transparency.

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