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Hill & Knowlton, Voice of the Bad Guy, Thrives Amid Misfortune

Times have been tough for everyone in the hype business the last couple of years ... except at Hill & Knowlton, the WPP (WPPGY)-owned PR agency. There, everybody else's bad news is good for business. Bloomberg reports:
WPP Plc's Hill & Knowlton, the public relations firm whose clients include American International Group Inc., said demand from companies getting government bailouts helped it win more business in 2009 than each of the two previous years.

Hill & Knowlton, which previously worked with energy trader Enron Corp. and phone company WorldCom Inc., said risk- protection business is growing in the economic slowdown as affected companies must account to the government and taxpayers and rebuild their reputations.

AIG? Enron? Worldcom? Turns out that those three are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corporate wrong-doers on H&K's current and former client lists.

The agency was once retained by BCCI, according to pro-transparency group FAS, after the crooked bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with the Medellin Cartel to launder $32 million in drug money.

Its clients also include the Church of Scientology and Big Tobacco, in addition to some less than democratic foreign regimes such as Indonesia, China, Kuwait, Israel, Egypt, and Peru, according to the U.K.'s Corporate Watch.

It's dirty work, but someone has to do it.

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