State Fires PR Firm It Hired After RFRA Controversy

Jul 2, 2015

The state had planned to spend as much as $2 million trying to rehab its image following passage of RFRA.
Credit Porter Novelli

Just two-and-a-half months after hiring global public relations firm Porter Novelli to combat the negative impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Thursday cancelled its contract with the company. 

The IEDC hired Porter Novelli in April in the wake of backlash over the RFRA controversy to “remind the world that Hoosiers welcome everyone.” 

The $750,000 contract ran through September.  But in a statement Thursday, IEDC executive vice president Chris Cotterill says the state decided to refocus its resources on existing marketing strategies.

Cotterill credits the recent announcement of major job commitments and business investment for the state as part of the impetus for its decision. 

Porter Novelli will get $365,000 for its work, which the firm’s North American president Brad MacAfee describes as the development of a framework for the state that lays out best practices for the future. 

But State Democratic Party Chair John Zody says cancellation of the contract raises more questions than answers, describing it as a "kneejerk reaction" by Governor Mike Pence, and criticizing the administration’s mismanagement of Hoosier tax dollars.