PR man's group email creates stir

By Harrison Christian

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Damon Harvey
Damon Harvey

The PR man who helped OHL Hawkins win its construction bid for the Ruataniwha dam has been slammed after he tried to drum up support for a pro-dam rally this week.

Transparent Hawke's Bay chairwoman Pauline Elliott said Attn! Marketing PR director Damon Harvey included the society in a group email asking for community support for the "Don't Damn Our Dam Rally for Ruataniwha" in Waipukurau tomorrow.

Ms Elliott said Attn! Marketing PR was the PR firm behind OHL Hawkins, the organisation responsible for building the dam.

But Mr Harvey said although Attn! Marketing PR had provided support for OHL Hawkins in the lead-up to its construction bid for the dam project last year, OHL Hawkins was no longer a client.

In his email, sent on Tuesday and later forwarded to Hawke's Bay Today, Mr Harvey described the rally as "by the people for the people", which was disingenuous, Ms Elliott said, considering the rally was a "highly orchestrated" and "highly moneyed" campaign.

She was concerned Mr Harvey's email signified "the company building the dam trying to drum up support". Asked if there could be a perceived conflict of interest in his sending of the email, Mr Harvey said: "Not at all, absolutely not."

Attn! Marketing PR wasn't involved in the organisation of the rally and Mr Harvey had sent the email as a personal favour to rally organiser, Waipawa businessman Gavin Streeter.

Mr Harvey's email said the dam had received "substantial negative publicity" and a rally has been organised to show support for the project.

The email asked recipients to attend the rally and bring other supporters, and to pass on an attached flyer to their contacts.

Mr Harvey said he sent the email to about 50 contacts from his work email address because he didn't have a personal email address.

Mr Harvey's wife, Tukituki Labour candidate Anna Lorck, ran Attn! Marketing PR with her husband before stepping down from her role as a director to quell a perception of conflict of interest in her election campaign this year.

The Don't Damn Our Dam Rally for Ruataniwha will begin in the Waipukurau War Memorial Hall & Community Centre car park at noon tomorrow.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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