Saudi Arabia hires PR veteran and former Katie Couric producer for media consulting

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks throughout the Gulf Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2021.

Bandar Saudi Press Company | Handout | By way of Reuters

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has employed a public relations govt who was as soon as a producer for information anchor Katie Couric to work as a media-relations marketing consultant.

Nicolla Hewitt, who has run her personal communications agency for over a decade, is becoming a member of the ranks of American influencers who work for the dominion. The federal government, which is run by a royal household, has been accused of human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia is led largely by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. NBC Information reported in 2018 that he ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one thing the crown prince has denied. Former President Donald Trump, on the time, stood by Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s dying. The 2 nations had signed a virtually $110 billion arms deal a yr earlier.

A brand new disclosure not too long ago filed with the Division of Justice says Hewitt shall be conducting freelance work for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media and “will carry out normal public relations and media outreach companies, together with outreach to broadcast, print and social media in regards to the altering lifestyle in Saudi Arabia.”

The doc notes that Hewitt is conducting her work for the Ministry of Media via an organization known as Thiqah Enterprise Providers. In accordance with the enterprise journal Eye of Riyadh, Thiqah Enterprise Providers is a “100% authorities firm owned by Saudi Authority for Accredited Valuers and Saudi Group for Licensed Public Accountants.”

The disclosure kind reveals that Hewitt, previous to the submitting, was actively working for the Saudi authorities’s media company all through final yr. In accordance with a Saudi authorities web site, the Ministry of Media “supervises all technique of visible, audio and written communication content material within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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The shape lists reporters whom Hewitt contacted whereas she represented the Saudi authorities, together with these at CNBC, NBC Information, CBS Information, the New York Put up and CNN. Public relations representatives typically pitch reporters on tales for his or her shoppers.

Thiqah paid Hewitt a retainer of over $15,000 from Thiqah in November and December, in keeping with the shape.

An e-mail despatched to Hewitt’s agency was not returned earlier than publication. Thiqah Enterprise Providers didn’t return an e-mail searching for remark.

Hewitt is the newest American consultant to be employed by Saudi Arabia in a bid to affect U.S. audiences and officers.

Shortly after President Joe Biden was elected in 2020, Saudi Arabia employed a number of new lobbyists in a sign that the nation was planning an up to date affect marketing campaign that might goal the brand new administration and incoming Congress. The dominion has additionally been aiming to fund a brand new digital information platform with a headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Hewitt has prior expertise within the Center East and was on the board of the U.N. Ladies for Peace, in keeping with her namesake agency’s web site. Her LinkedIn web page says she labored with Couric at Yahoo Information, CBS Information and NBC Information.

Her agency’s web site additionally lists Bloomberg Philanthropies, Get up To Most cancers and Lady Rising as a few of their previous shoppers.

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