Village of Swanton to Contract with PR Firm for $400 per Hour

Swanton Village Council President Craig Rose, opened the March 22nd Council meeting by relating the first of several decisions made during the Committee of the Whole (CW) meeting held earlier in the evening, and informed all in attendance that the Village would be using Hennes Communications for public relations work when required.  Hennes Communications is a North American firm that is exclusively focused on crisis management and crisis communications and deals with a litany of issues including social media attacks.

“We would like to give Ms. Hoelzle (Administrator Rosanna) the approval to contract with them.  We’re only going to be using them for certain instances when we need it,” said Mr. Rose in the CW.  And, we only get billed as we use them.  This is not a contractual or monthly obligation.  We’re only giving her permission to use them and we also, as we discussed, have final approval on anything that is written or put out by this PR group.  So, we’d like her to move on with them.”

Dave Pilliod was the only Council member to voice an objection with the decision.  “I don’t think it’s a good idea.  Why do we need them?” he said.  “There’s going to be a lot of instances where we’re going to need them coming in the future here as well.  We’re going to need a professional group to respond,” said Mr. Rose explaining the decision.

“Why can’t we respond?” countered Mr. Pilliod.  “It’s because none of us are professional PR folks here.  That’s not what we do,” answered Mr. Rose.  “And when we get into a situation where we feel we have to have them, we want to have these people on board to do that.  We’ve already contacted them and we’ve discussed fees and all those good things.  And when we decide we have a situation which arises that we’ll need professional help they’re going to be the folks going to deal with.” “Who’s paying for this?” asked Mr. Pilliod.  “The Village is going to pay for it,” said Mr. Rose.

No current or potential future specific instances were identified that would make the employment of Hennes Communications necessary and no monetary amount for their services was discussed during the meeting.  However, a follow-up email was sent to Administrator Hoelzle asking what fee might the Village be charged for services.  “If/when a need arises, Hennes Communications will assist with communication material; they charge $400 per hour,” she wrote back.

Pictured:  Swanton Village Council President Craig Rose

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