The new PR firm is 5W Public Relations and, among its clients are Pastor John Hagee, Televangelist Benny Hinn, a few members of Israel's Knesset and the uber-right wing Zionist Organization of America (and here, where the ZOA's president defends Pastor John Hagee).
So what happens to Lubicom and its chief Menachem Lubinsky now that Agriprocessors has a real PR firm working for it?
It seems 5W will handle PR for the national, secular and non-Orthodox markets and for the left wing Modern Orthodox. And will handle blogs. (We've already seen the effects here, I think, with some comments from, shall we say, obvious trolls.)
Who benefits from this move?
Not Rubashkin alone. The OU benefits and so does Chabad.
Both have been hurt by Rubashkin's scandals. Neither are willing to take the steps necessary to distance their organizations from Agriprocessors and the Rubashkin family.
The only solution they have is to make Rubashkin's PR better in hopes that takes the pressure off.
The Forward has a brief but important report on this shift:
…Juda Engelmayer, who is handling the Agriprocessors account for 5W, said that Agriprocessors had hired his firm within the past two weeks to deal with marketing, but he declined to go into greater detail about strategy or the types of issues his firm would handle.
Menachem Lubinksy, CEO of the kosher industry consulting firm Lubicom and a spokesman for Agriprocessors, told the Forward that he expected 5W to deal with negative publicity and blogs. Asked to confirm this, Engelmayer said 5W’s role is still undefined.
Meanwhile, Lubinsky’s firm has organized a meeting for June 24 in midtown Manhattan to present Agriprocessors’s case. According to an e-mail publicizing the event, the topics discussed will include the potential for a kosher meat shortage and “What can be done to stop the slander and vilifications against Agriprocessors?” Among those slated to appear, according to the e-mail, are “local community activists from Postville” and “kosher food industry leaders.” Lubinsky declined to reveal the identities of the activists and industry leaders.
Rabbi Morris Allen, leader of the Conservative movement’s effort to reform labor practices in the kosher food industry and one of the most prominent critics of Agriprocessors, said he worried that the public-relations push was a sign that Agriprocessors was more focused on going after its critics than about changing its practices.
“It appears that sometimes people’s best defense is not to look at themselves to make change but rather to attack people who are simply calling for a higher standard to be used in the production of kosher food,” Allen said.
Engelmeyer, who some of you know, is just doing his job. That said, what a distasteful job that must be.