Overseas Filipino workers, the Maguindanao massacre, the Abu Sayyaf, and the Spratly Islands – surely not mainstream issues or topics that are seen in the media here in the U.S. regularly. However, thanks to the hard work of a Public Relations agency (not 5WPR), The New York Times, Bloomberg News, Reuters and others interviewed visiting dignitaries from the Philippines this week regarding the topics above.

Despite the firm’s success, the hiring of a NYC PR firm was a scandalous front page story in Manila, with headlines blaring: “Palace admits hiring US PR firm.” Outrage is now abound in Manila; hiring a Public Relations Agency to assist in building support within the US?

On the front pages of Manila media, you can read of the administration defending the $15,000 PR budget at:


As the President of the Philippines explained, the U.S. visit will likely “generate tens of thousands of jobs for Filipinos.” Upon arrival, he interviewed with six of The New York Times newspaper’s staff. Later media reports spoke of interviews with Bloomberg News and Reuters.

We work extensively in International Public Relations for dignitaries visiting the U.S., and I would imagine this campaign involved wining and dining along with tons of calls and follow-ups to arrange the NY Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg interviews. Not to mention researching the background of the Reporters doing the interviews, providing talking points and escorts to the interviews, and dozens and dozens of hours.

In my eyes, the scandal is the absurdly low fee which this firm earned – one, that in many other professional service industries, would cost at least 10 to 20 times more. Advertising campaigns, which few people see, don’t require hand holding, attention, or hours of work – which are all things built into a PR firm’s fee.

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Its high time that Public Relations is afforded more respect. In a case like the one above, jobs will be created, international favor won, and attention earned. Of course, there is an obvious positive effect at home in the Philippines, as well.

As CEO of 1 of the 15 largest privately held PR firms in the US, I spend a lot of time managing crisis communications & crisis PR projects. It’s hard, time consuming work that reaps results. The above low fee crisis is one which is absurd and, to be honest, is unsettling.

The bottom line: be fair and give credit and reward where they are due. Why does PR consistently receive the short end of the totem pole ?

Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.