OneWorld Communications

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OneWorld Communications is a small San Francisco public relations company that provides public relations advice, marketing and promotional materials and access to a photo library.

History

In 2004 a communications plan by OneWorld was leaked to the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign. OneWorld had been hired on a $90,000 contract by the U.S. Forest Service to advise it on the release of the Sierra Nevada forest management plan. Under the plan, logging is projected to triple.

OneWorld advised the Forest Service to emphasise that its logging plan was really a wildfire hazard reduction measure to protect communities and that the details of its PR plan should be kept secret as "members of the public who are not professionals in public relations and marketing might misinterpret certain ideas or concepts." [1] Download OneWorld Communications plan as a pdf - 368k file

Following media coverage of the leaked plan and criticism that the contract was a waste of public funds, the Pacific Southwest regional forester for the Forest Service, Jack Blackwell, defended its actions in a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. "We feel so strongly about the potential catastrophic effects of fires on the communities and wildlife in the Sierra Nevada that we did indeed hire a contractor to help us create greater public awareness of the need to reduce fuels," he wrote.[2]

The following month, Associated Press reported that $23,000 of the Forest Service's contract with OneWorld Communications went towards producing 15,000 copies of a brochure called "very misleading" by local environmental groups. The brochure, which "urges more logging to prevent wildfires in the Sierra Nevada," contains "six small black-and-white photos spanning 80 years... beside descriptions of how the 'forests of the past' had fewer trees and less underbrush." However, the 1909 picture, depicting a less dense "forest of the past," "was taken just after the forest had been logged. And the pictured forest is nowhere near the Sierra Nevada. It is in Montana." Forest Service officials explained that the brochure pictures were from different western pine forests because "it is difficult to find a good series of repeat photographs of the same place over almost 100 years."[3]

The Agriculture Department's general counsel dismissed a request by two Congressmen to investigate the contract as breaching a ban on government agencies undertaking propaganda activities, as distinct from providing public information. "The Forest Service seems to be explaining and defending its policies and responding to arguments against those activities - a legitimate activity," Nancy S. Bryson is cited by AP as writing in her opinion.

Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia, a member of the House Resources Committee, dispute the finding. In a statement he wrote that OneWorld Communications "provided slogans to the Forest Service to help sell a controversial logging plan for the Sierra Nevada, complete with marketing advice such as 'perception is king'" but that the general counsel was claiming that "the firm's contract is simply about advocating 'silvicultural (forestry) techniques.'" [4]

In September 2004, the Government Accountability Office echoed the Department of Agriculture's May decision on the use of OneWorld by the Forest Services. In a 13-page report, the GAO writes, "While the Forest Service policy is controversial, the materials explaining the policy do not constitute prohibited publicity or propaganda."

GAO also exonerated the Forest Service for how it labeled the photographs in its brochure on the Sierra Nevada, which it later revised after criticism. "Although the Forest Service could have been more careful in its labeling of the pictures to eliminate any inference that the logged 1909 forest was a more natural state of the forest, the Forest Service's failure to do so does not constitute a violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition," the GAO said. [5]

Clients

OneWorld provides a client list that spans those the company and its principals have worked with over the last 20 years. The list below excludes those that relate solely to the sale of photos.

Contact information

OneWorld Communications, Inc.
2001 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 355-1935
Fax: (415) 355-0295
E-mail: oneworld AT owcom.com
Web: http://www.owcom.com

External links