|Industry||Public relations, lobbying|
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Michael Petruzzello (CEO)|
|Services||Media relations, crisis communication, opinion polls|
Number of employees
Qorvis Communications is an international Washington, D.C.-based public relations, advertising, media relations and crisis communications firm. It was acquired by the Publicis Groupe in January 2014, and became Qorvis/MSLGroup.
Qorvis provides public relations (PR) representation on behalf of a range of public companies, financial services firms, sovereign nations, and wealthy individuals. During the late-2000s financial crisis, Qorvis represented Wells Fargo and AIG.
Qorvis was founded in August 2000 through the merger of The Poretz Group (investor relations firm serving technology companies), The Weber/Merritt Company (a public affairs and grassroots specialist) and JAS Communications (a public relations and marketing communications agency). Michael Petruzzello, former CEO of Weber Shandwick, founded the new PR firm and the managing director.
Offering traditional public and investor relations services, Qorvis launched with 22 employees and revenues of approximately $14 million in revenues. In addition, the law firm Patton Boggs established a strategic alliance with the Qorvis and became its lead investor. The CEO described the firm to PR Week as "in the gray area where technology, finance, public affairs and marketing converge".
During the first six years, the firm added market and consumer research, media training and grassroots lobbying to its services, working for clients such as United Technologies, the Jim Beam liquor family and the Consumer Electronics Association. By 2006, the firm had 90 employees in two offices, billing approximately $23 million.
In 2007, Qorvis extended its services of web design and advertising through the acquisition of boutique advertising agency Sparky’s garage.
- Ahmed Ezz
- Food and Drug Administration
- Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce
- The Sugar Association
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- Equatorial Guinea and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Saudi Arabia hired Qorvis to improve its image in the wake of the September 11 attacks, receiving $14.7 million between March and September 2002. Qorvis engaged in a PR frenzy that publicized the "9/11 Commission finding that there was 'no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded Al Qaeda, while omitting the report's conclusion that 'Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism.'" Petruzzello told The Washington Post that the work was not about "lobbying" but "educating" the public and policy makers.
In 2004, Matt J. Lauer, previously executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the State Department, was hired by Qorvis to work on public relations for Saudi Arabia and other clients. Lauer subsequently founded the group's Geopolitical Solutions (GPS) division, which went on to represent numerous foreign sovereign countries and corporations, including Yemen, China and Equatorial Guinea.
In December 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at Qorvis's offices as part of a criminal investigation into whether a pro-Saudi radio-ad campaign run by the firm broke federal law by not disclosing funds from the Saudi government. No charges were ever filed.
The company was handed the lucrative lead role in shaping media coverage of the widely criticized Saudi-led attack on Yemen of 2015. This included the creation of the website operationrenewalofhope.com and helping Saudi officials gain access to US media. One example of the latter is a Newsweek article in which the Saudi foreign minister claims that, far from "supporting violent extremism", his country has actually shown "leadership in combating terrorism".
Qorvis is the agency of record for the Kingdom of Bahrain. According to Foreign Agents Registration filings with the Department of Justice, Bahrain's government pays Qorvis $40,000 per month to manage the government's communications strategy and image in the United States in face of civil protests. In August 2011, it was widely reported that Qorvis wrote press releases on behalf of Bahrain's government, defending its crackdown on Doctors Without Borders. Qorvis employee Tom Squitieri has written articles critical of the protesters that have appeared in The Huffington Post and USA Today. Qorvis assists in organizing delegations of individuals who represent the government's point of view. These delegations often criticize opposition to Bahrain's monarchy.
In early February 2011, three of Qorvis's partners left the firm disgruntled by compensation; however, they later attributed it to the company's controversial work with foreign governments. A former employee was reported as saying, "I just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own people." During the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, executive vice president Seth Thomas Pietras said, “Our clients are facing some challenges now.... But our long-term goals — to bridge the differences between our clients and the United States — haven’t changed. We stand by them.”
- Jennifer Nycz-Conner (2014-10-2014). "Publicis Groupe acquires Qorvis Communications". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-12. Check date values in:
- "Qorvis Communications, LLC". O'Dwyer's Public Relations Firms Database. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Agency Report Card". The Holmes Report. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Roddy Boyd (3 March 2011). Fatal Risk: A Cautionary Tale of AIG's Corporate Suicide. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 129–. ISBN 978-1-118-08429-8. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- Pearlstein, Steven (Oct 27, 2006). "A PR Firm That Actually Knows How to Relate". Washington Post.
- Casey, Bernadette (Feb 13, 2013). "Davos Roundtable: Global emergence". PRWeek. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- "New Communications Firm -- Qorvis -- is Launched; Patton Boggs Signs on As Strategic Partner and Investor" (Press release). Business Wire. 2000-08-09. Retrieved 17-03-2013 via thefreelibrary.com. Check date values in:
- Judy Sarasohn (2000-03-30). "Special Interests: Shandwick's 'Dynamic Force' Resign". The Washington Post.
- Carolyn Myles (2000-08-14). "Petruzzello rebounds in DC with $14 million PR dream team, Qorvis". PR Week.
- Steven Pearlstein (27 October 2006). "A PR Firm That Actually Knows How to Relate". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Qorvis Communications (Report). The Holmes Report. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Qorvis at a Glance". Qorvis Communications. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- "Case Studies". Qorvis Communications. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- McCauley, Kevin (2011-09-19). "Qorvis Client Sentenced". O'Dwyer's Blog.
- Park, Kristi (October 3, 2008). "The FDA hires a PR firm, creates a public relations nightmare for itself". Bizmology. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Bogardus, Kevin (December 6, 2011). "Palestine rep finds closed doors". The Hill. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Bandow, Doug (February 6, 2005). "A sweet deal for the sugar industry". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Edge, Marc (January 30, 2013). "Media Wars in Paradise". The Tyee. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Grimaldi, James (2011-10-30). "Efforts against Equatorial Guinea official shows challenge for U.S. in foreign corruption cases". The Washington Post.
- Lynch, Colum (June 24, 2010). "Can K Street save Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo's good name?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Gerstein, Josh (December 20, 2004). "P.R. Effort By Saudis Sparks Justice Probe". The New York Sun. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Kurlantzick, Joshua (2007-05-07). "Putting Lipstick on a Dictator". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
- Shenon, Philip (December 5, 2002). "Saudis Face New Problem With Publicity". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Judy Sarasohn (2002-03-21). "Saudi Arabia a 'Fascinating Client' for Qorvis". The Washington Post.
- Sarasohn, Judy (Oct 14, 2004). "Special Interests". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Halvorssen, Thor (May 19, 2011). "PR Mercenaries". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Horwitz, Sari (2004-12-09). "FBI Searches Saudi Arabia's PR Firm". The Washington Post.
- Gerstein, Josh (2004-12-21). "Saudi Account Caused a Row At Patton, Boggs". The Sun.
- Fang, Lee (1 December 2015). "Inside Saudi Arabia's Campaign to Charm American Policymakers and Journalists". The Intercept. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
- Abel bin Ahmed al-Dubeir (3 February 2016). "The Saudis are fighting terrorism, don't believe otherwise". Newsweek. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- Elliot, Justin (2011-08-08). "D.C. firm inks lucrative public-relations contract with Bahrain". Salon.
- Baker, Aryn (November 29, 2011). "Disappearing Dissent: How Bahrain Buried Its Revolution". Time. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Wearing, David (Feb 21, 2013). "The Regime in Bahrain Needs to Drop the PR, and do its Homework". HuffPost Students. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Gladstone, Rick (2011-08-05). "Relief Group Stops Work in Bahrain After Raid". The New York Times.
- McEvers, Kelly (2011-08-09). "Doctors Without Borders Targeted In Bahrain". NPR.
- Silverstein, Ken (December 7, 2011). "How Bahrain works Washington". Salon.
- Elliot, Justin (2012-02-28). "Bahraini 'Reformers' in Washington, Courtesy of American Spinmeisters". ProPublica.
- Garcia, Tonya (August 9, 2011). "Qorvis Working with Bahrain's Ruling Family to Improve Image". PR Newser. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- Lichtblau, Eric (2011-03-01). "Arab Uprisings Put U.S. Lobbyists in Uneasy Spot". The New York Times.
- Plumb, Tierney (March 11, 2011). "CEO says Qorvis still growing, despite recent partner exodus". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Baram, Marcus (2011-03-25). "Lobbyists Jump Ship In Wake Of Mideast Unrest". The Huffington Post.