PR Firms: Your Source For AuthenticityNick Ragone, an executive at the huge PR agency Ketchum [Disclosure: and an occasional source of mine at PRWeek], has a new book out about Presidents, for some reason. And he's putting those PR skills to use for it. It's on Page Six today! He has a podcast about it! And an op-ed in PRWeek about how "real" authenticity is "essential" for corporations and politicians alike! How does Ketchum, which does everything from sell you food to lobby your politicians, teach its employees to be such paragons of authenticity in communications?

Maybe by applying the lessons they learned while brokering the Armstrong Williams- US Department of Education payola scandal of 2005. They helped set up the $240,000 contract that put the ostensibly independent commentator on the government's payroll to talk sweet about the "No Child Left Behind" program, ultimately destroying his career and tarnishing the entire PR industry (if you believe such a thing is possible). And then pinned all the blame on Williams himself!

Nick Ragone didn't have anything to do with that contract, as far as I know. But as a rule of thumb, if you ever meet somebody from Ketchum, ask them about the Armstrong Williams thing. They love to talk about it.

Hope your book makes you enough money to get out of PR, Nick!