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State Hires Public Relations Firm In RFRA Aftermath

Noah Coffey

After public outcry over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and an attempt to satisfy LGBTQ groups didn’t hit the mark for everyone, Indiana will invest in a public relations firm to reshape its image.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Office of Tourism Development hired public relations firm Porter Novelli earlier this week.

IEDC Executive Vice President Chris Cotterill declined to say how much the state will spend. He says the negative reaction to RFRA caused some in the Statehouse to change their view that the state’s public relations people didn’t need outside help.

“We don’t operate in a vacuum," Cotterill says. "There was a recent controversy that you may have seen and it’s given people who had the question, ‘Should we invest more in Indiana?’ and really cause them to change and say we should invest more in Indiana."

Purdue University public relations professor Josh Boyd says it makes sense to bring in a firm from outside Indiana if the state is concerned about its image elsewhere in the country.

“They do want to show the rest of the country that they’re serious about taking this on. I don’t think it’s any slam, I think there are some excellent PR practitioners in Indiana, but I do think it’s kind of a symbolic way to say we’re serious about this,” Boyd says.

The move comes in the same week Gov. Mike Pence’s chief spokeswoman Christy Denault announced she’s leaving her job. Porter Novelli officials declined to comment. 

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