PR firm for high-speed rail project quits before being fired 

The public relations firm awarded a $9 million contract to promote California’s high-speed rail operations announced last week that it would be quitting its role as the agency’s mouthpiece, just before the state authority was set to fire it.

In a memo sent on June 29 to Roelof Van Ark, the executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Ogilvy Public Relations managing director Michael Law said, “we were unable to develop a solid working relationship with your agency, and that impeded the top-notch work we are accustomed to providing our clients.”

There had been grumblings at the authority about Ogilvy’s production since the two sides agreed on a $9 million contract in 2009. Former chair member Quentin Kopp was particularly critical of the public relations firm, saying it had done little to prove its value for the authority.

Rachel Wall, spokesman for the authority, said Ogilvy elected to resign before the state agency moved forward with plans to sever its contract with the firm.

“Outreach and communicating with the public is critical to the success of the high-speed rail project,” said Wall. “And so we believe it’s prudent for our board to take stock of our current efforts and refocus those efforts moving forward as we get closer to beginning construction next year.”

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