Taxpayer money in California used to pay PR firms millions for COVID outreach, celebrity influencers
November 13, 2020
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Los Angeles County's Board of Supervisors, Department of Public Health and Department of Health Services have renewed contracts with two public relations firms for the second time after spending millions in taxpayer funding since March to have them craft and guide a Coronavirus Response Media campaign, despite the county having its own fully-staffed communications team.
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WALL STREET'S YEAR-END BONUS PAYMENTS EXPECTED TO TAKE A HIT
According to documents obtained by FOX 11's Bill Melugin, Fraser Communications and Mercury Public Affairs were originally awarded separate, no-bid contracts of $200,000 on March 12 and 30 respectively.
Fraser was hired to draft press releases and talking points, monitor public perception of COVID-19 and the county's reponse to it, and develop and implement an advertising campaign via local outlets and social media on key messages and best practices, among other duties.
As for Mercury, the firm was tasked with creating a “Multicultural and Ethnic Outreach and Communications” plan in order to reach diverse audiences in LA County, part of which includes “recruiting and deploying non-County messengers, celebrity influencers, and other surrogates" to help with messaging on social media.
Mercury also supported staff at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services with media inquiries and briefings and assisted with messaging around the recovery and reopening of Los Angeles County facilities and the broader business community, including small businesses and their employees, among other duties.
The contracts show that LA County had applied for the cost to be reimbursed via federal or state disaster aid money.