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World Health Organization hired PR firm to identify celebrity ‘influencers’ to amplify virus messaging

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Chuck Ross on July 17, 2020

  • The World Health Organization hired a high-powered public relations firm to seek out so-called influencers to help build trust in the organization’s coronavirus response.
  • WHO paid $135,000 to the firm Hill and Knowlton Strategies, according to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. 
  • WHO has come under intense scrutiny for amplifying the Chinese government’s false claims about the coronavirus. 
  • Hill and Knowlton proposed identifying celebrities and other social media users with clout to ‘amplify’ WHO’s messaging about the pandemic.

Amid scrutiny over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization in early May hired an American public relations firm to burnish its image, including through identifying so-called “influencers” to help amplify messaging about COVID-19.

According to documents filed with the Justice Department this week, WHO inked a $135,000 contract on May 1 with Hill and Knowlton Strategies to craft a public messaging strategy.

“There has been criticism and assertions leveled against the World Health Organization (WHO) and media coverage that could undermine WHO as a trusted and critical information source on global public health issues,” Hill and Knowlton wrote in its proposal to WHO.

The contract earmarked $30,000 for “influencer identification,” $65,000 for “message testing,” and $40,000 for a “campaign plan framework.”

Hill and Knowlton, which registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, proposed identifying three tiers of influencers: celebrities with large social media followings, individuals with smaller but more engaged followings, and “hidden heroes,” those users with slight followings but who “nevertheless shape and guide conversations.”

The celebrity influencers would be used “for greater amplification of WHO messaging,” according to Hill and Knowlton’s proposal, which was first reported by The Daily Beast.

“Covid-19 has dominated day-to-day conversations, but not all voices are equal and not all are cutting through and being listened to,” the prospectus reads.

After a phase of identifying influencers and message testing, Hill and Knowlton proposed making recommendations to WHO to “help ensure science and public health message credibility from the WHO in order to ensure there is trust in the WHO’s advice and that public health guidance is followed.”

WHO has come under intense scrutiny, especially in the United States, for a series of inaccurate assessments of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Jan. 14, WHO amplified claims from the Chinese government that coronavirus was not transmitted through human-to-human contact. WHO officials also said in February that there was little evidence that people without symptoms were transmitting the virus.

Both claims have proved wildly inaccurate, with some health experts saying that WHO’s inaccurate statements have hindered the global response to the pandemic.

“When you look at what WHO did I think they set us back a great deal because they made countries believe if just a few countries that were going to get this would just do the containment work, we could stop it,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, a leading epidemiologist, said in an interview in late March.

“Many of us were incredibly disappointed, for lack of a better word, in the WHO and its response,” Osterholm added.

President Donald Trump said in April that he would stop funding WHO because of its handling of the pandemic.

“The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a twenty-fold increase in cases worldwide, and it may be much more than that,” Trump said on April 14.

The administration notified WHO on July 6 that it will withdraw its membership next year.

Hill and Knowlton said in the filing that it registered as a foreign agent of WHO “as a matter of prudence.” WHO receives funding from member-states and private organizations. The United States is by far the largest contributor to WHO’s budget, contributing more than $400 million each year.

Hill and Knowlton said that the contract with WHO was set to expire on June 15, but that its work is ongoing.

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jojodmonkey July 18, 2020

    It doesn’t matter WHO, these evil and wicked demonic scumbags hired or WHO the communist traitor celebrities that speak for them, the AMERICAN citizens back PRESIDENT TRUMP and always will! Your dun! Stick a fork in your a$$! The best news of all is the UN is next!

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Demonangel July 18, 2020

    These are the facts that should be getting to the voting public. How many people will actually get to see this article. Those who have Facebook should be sharing this and other important messages. Time is running short to dislodge the dems from their cozy positions of power. Just sayin’.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    1tymtrvlr July 18, 2020

    Da mn, it looks like the w.h.o. have money to burn to hire the LEFTIST MARXISTS entertainers to spread their puke and spew propaganda, brain washing. President Trump better not send them another American taxpayer’s cent..

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Laura July 18, 2020

    It’s astounding that the left hasn’t said a word about protesters it shows you they are scared they will be exposed, he’ll they already have been. The left is about power and money they do nit give a shit about the citizens. Thank God fir Trump who has exposed them to the world. Time to stand up and fight the enemy on our own soil. This election will cause a civil war. Are you ready? I am

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Tony Winters July 18, 2020

    I believe that there is an incorrect word used in the title of this article. The title should read “World Health Organization hired PR firm to identify celebrity ‘stooges’ to amplify virus messaging.”
    The Hollywood Elite wants so much to fit in that they will do or say anything to reach that goal. The only difference between Hollywood and a Whore House is that operating a Whore House is Illegal in most states, but just like a Whore House they will do or say anything you want if the price is write.

    Reply

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