Wikileaks and Julian Assange hire a PR firm

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has secured the services of a public relations firm "after a series of damaging blows to his image," reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

"He's appointed London public relations firm Borkowski, owned by master publicist Mark Borkowski—which has a four-member team dealing with media enquiries about him—and an online weekly media conference to deliver messages from him and WikiLeaks."

Here are some of the firm's clients. Borkowski's personal blog is here, ("Improperganda!") and he's on Twitter. He wrote a book called The Fame Formula.

(via Asher Wolf)


  1. So whenever Julian Assange runs away from something he will be followed by a Jean Michel Jarre soundtrack? I can accept that.

  2. “Damaging blows to his IMAGE”? Hey, what are a couple of rape charges when you’ve set yourself up as the arbiter of truth and justice in this world?

    I’m getting rather tired of this grandstanding little meat sack. I have yet to read a single “leak” that wasn’t already plainly obvious to anyone with a decent grasp of the obvious.

    1. I have yet to read a single “leak” that wasn’t already plainly obvious to anyone with a decent grasp of the obvious.

      You are amazingly full of shit. Please, educating yourself and quit embarrassing yourself.

        1. From the link kindly provided by Kaini…this requires GREAT emphasis…:

          “…Wikileaks has brought much-needed light to government operations and private actions which, while veiled in secrecy, profoundly affect the lives of people around the world and can play an important role in a democracy that chooses its leaders. As founding father James Madison explained, “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both.””

          People who hate Wikileaks, must also hate the ideas upon which America was built for the first two hundred years of its existence.

        1. Oh, and thanks for the link to Wikipedia. I never would have found that myself.

          Well, I would have linked to your own blog that showed all these”obvious” things prior to their release by Wikileaks, but surprisingly… it’s nowhere to be found.

          I’m sorry your life is mediocre. Maybe if you keep attacking Assange it’ll make you feel a tad more superior, m’kay sugar pie? Keep trying… you can do it!

      1. If something is obvious or not could of course be debated, but I have yet to see a wikileak that isn’t about something that hasn’t been reported, debated and analysed by Scandinavian news media, usually years or even decades prior to the wikileak. The wikileaks are important as they add new pieces information and spread the awareness to parts of the world where it wouldn’t reach otherwise, but as of today they have only confirmed what has already been general knowledge or at least suspicions in the parts of the world that has access to free (as in freedom) news media and where uncensored public debate is allowed.

        1. “they have only confirmed what has already been general knowledge or at least suspicions”

          You use the word “only” in what appears to be a belittling sense. As if someone else is finding a way to obtain and disseminate these documents. As if it makes no difference that anything gets confirmed.
          As I said, above, suspicions without documentation are simply idle gossip; suspicions must be confirmed by documents to ensure that democratic publics can – in a rational manner – hold accountable those that govern them.
          Whenever anyone says “who cares? All this was obvious to anyone paying attention” I can’t help wondering if they say this absolutely every time they read any news story, because almost every news story contains an utterly tiny portion of new information. If you feel this way about wikileaks, you must feel that way, but even more strongly, about every other media outlet. It makes me wonder why you read everything, since you obviously know everything already.

    2. Totally Agree with you.

      There is something NOT RIGHT about this whole business. It seems to me it is being ORCHESTRATED by people who would find it in their interests to restrict the freedom of users of the www.

    3. That is the point: Assange was not charged for rape – only questioned. His case was dismissed in august ever in accordance to the most tough rape law in the world. It was reopend by obvious, purely political reasons. Collusion between two girls before they accussed Assange in “illegal sexual behavior” was proven by SMS log. (BTW, his interpol red label for questioning was unprecedental – a real slap to europeans). Enormous efforts done to interfer with Wikileaks functioning and delay new whistles. They need PR-firm more than any other company on the planet.

  3. This Julian vs. keystone cops tennis match is hilarious. Right when some feds do some crazy crap, Julian ends up coming out with some more wankerisms. Kudos to BB for showing the dirt on both sides of this drama.

    1. “damaging blows to his image” — Wikileaks, were it truly doing what it claims, wouldn’t need to worry about Assange’s image. He should be expendable and really should step away if what he cares about is Wikileaks. He is building his personal brand not helping the world. I hope someone does a good job of copycatting the mission of Wikileaks and delivers on its potential.

    2. The weird thing is that Wikileaks should have done this a year ago.

      So what happens to Wikileaks in the middle of all of this?

    3. Agreed. Any idea when the CIA first hired a PR firm? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it in the 1940s.

      1. They hired the Edward Bernays (the man who coined the term “Public Relations”) back around 1954 to teach them how to keep their coups out of the limelight (starting with Guatemala, I believe).
        I imagine that a powerful PR strategy against Assange would be to sow doubt about his agenda among his supporters, making out wikileaks to be an elaborate con that is intended to justify thorough censorship of the net. It will work among a lot of paranoids, I think, in the same way that large numbers of stoners apparently voted to keep marijuana illegal, in California.

  4. And you must be one of those that have bought into the idolatry of this petty little freak.

    As to my “educating yourself”, like I said; nothing surprising there. Perhaps your grasp of the obvious is more tenuous than you realize.

    1. petty little freak

      Your jealously is showing. Your life must be amazingly insignificant. And, I feel sorry for you.

      1. My “mediocre” and “amazingly insignificant life” is not at issue here; I worry more about those who blindly defend this self-appointed defender of justice because of their overarching paranoia and fear.

        I am shocked (shocked!), to learn that our gov’t engages in secrecy and would prefer that we not know about it.

        1. I am shocked that no one in these comments will stop mentioning this phantom Assange Fan Club that half of the people in the world are supposed to be members of.

  5. Its one thing to assert that everything is plainly obvious. Its another to document everything. Until these things are documented, to at least some degree, they remain the irrelevant speculation of anonymous internet masterminds who already know everything.
    Once documented, however, the truth can catalyse vital political activity, and halt or at least slow new assaults on the open society:

    And yeah, I think Assange could have used good PR people a while ago. As for Assange stepping aside, maybe ego is foremost among his reasons not to, but it is worth remembering that wikileaks motto is “courage is contagious”, and they do need an extremely eloquent frontman with a hell of a lot of front. After all, he is asking people to be as brave as Bradley Manning, the real hero in all this.

  6. …aaannndd his part of the system. Julian could have just gone the “I keep my mouth shut” route, but no. First thing they should do would be to separate Assange and Wikileaks, since I don’t care much about the former but understand the importance of the latter.

    1. Yes, Anonymous, it is so useful to personalize politics….destroy the nation of Iraq? Hell no, we’re going after Saddam!

      Yeah, right.

      Distract them with the People magazine stuff.

      Good idea….

  7. If I’ve read the charges, leaks and innuendo correctly, it’s not *blows* that have brought him trouble. ZING!

  8. How much is that going to cost WikiLeaks? Four-member team dealing with media inquires? Weekly “online press conferences”? That sounds expensive. Are they going to disclose the cost to their donors?

    1. Who cares?
      I want to know what the US government is doing in secret….

      Anyhow, YOU aren’t really thinking of donating, are you Matt?

      You study them, only in order to destroy them, right?

      1. Julian will need more of your donations if you want to see more of those evil cables. First, he expects you, Ugly Canuck, to help him clear his name. OR HE’LL RELEASE ALL DIRT HE HAS ON YOU! You might want to see those evil AmeriKKKan cables, but god knows I don’t want to see, hear, or read all the dirty things a Canadian has done.

    2. As a flack myself, I would posit that a retainer like this would be in the $25,000 a month range. It seems very expensive, but when you start to look at the amount of people hours involved, it’s very reasonable.

      It isn’t hard to believe that nearly every media outlet from the tiniest one-person blog all the way up to tier one distributors like the BBC and the NY Times are interested in talking to Assange, and have sent interview requests. Just handling the deluge of emails from the press is easily a full time job for one or two people. Then there’s the time it takes to search for press clips. You have to find them, catalog them, organize them and analyze them in some meaningful way. Considering the amount of press WikiLeaks has gotten, this is also a full time job for 1-2 people.

      We’re already looking at full time work for 2-4 people, and we haven’t even gotten to strategy or anything public facing like press releases, reputation management or talking points and responses.

      Even if we discount the actual reputation management/media relations aspect of dealing with the press, I imagine logistically Assange needs help just keeping his relationships with the press afloat strictly because of the amount of time it takes. No single person could handle this themselves.

  9. While it is very useful to have a highly visible figurehead in any given organization, it has been standard policy in many corporations for years to produce fictional ones (this is, in some circles, called an egregore; good examples are the Geiko geko and Flo from its competitor’s commercials). It is, strategically speaking, a very bad idea to use Assange (or any human with a human past) as a figurehead for an organization like Wikileaks. I think they probably should have bought out the rights to Max Headroom and used him, but it’s too late now. Without a very expensive rebranding campaign, Assange (from the point of view of the uneducated and unwashed masses) IS wikileaks.

    Now, Assange is not a stupid guy, so there are only two reasons I can think of for him making such a mis-step. Either he needs the ego boost and doesn’t care that he will take the ship down with him, or he has something up his sleeve that will make this a benefit.

  10. enkiv2 “he has something up his sleeve”

    yeps unfortunately I think so.
    I read on a BBC comments page that he had made a prior agreement not to badmouth Israel lol.
    The wikileaks have either been given specific information (note irksomes comment that nothing is particularly interesting enough not to have come out at some point anyway), or they have willingly taken part in a scenario for either money or for indemnity.
    The guy in the US jail that leaked the stuff we will probably never know what happens to him, but he also has been used as a pawn in someones grand plan.
    I read that the G8 met a few years ago to discuss the Internet and the freedom we have on a global scale and the people who wish to feed us constant bs don’t like this freedom of communication. This is a very clever way of removing it whittling at it. Create a situation where they can say “Look we need to curtail this FOR YOUR OWN GOOD”
    This is my personal view of this and I know that most people will be angered as they think that this guy is wrongly accused of sex crimes and is really struggling to reveal things that people ought to know, but think for a minute and stop …It’s a dirty trick done by experts in dirty tricks.

    Best thing we can all do is completely ignore this scenario and not give it any attention.

  11. Predictions:

    Julian had to read this PR firm’s guy book before consulting with him and hear him drone business-marketing synergy speak for an hour gritting his teeth as a necessary evil to “re-brand his image.”

    I’m betting Julian is going to do an out of court settlement with the two “honeypot” girls as his lawyer eloquently calls them to shut up and sign a non-disclosure agreement (more book deals and paid photo-shoots will needed).

    This PR consulting gig will throw off the timeline of the much promised balance sheet of the so-called transparent organization – who would of thought that an organization of 5 or so individuals can be so challenging to account for?

    There will be some nebulous reason such as “it’s against German non-profit regulations” to contribute to Bradley Manning’s defense fund (even though Julian has a nice fat one).

    And finally, Wikileak’s CablegateTM is not the game changing singularity in foreign affairs that it’s adherents like to think it is. To emphasize, they are reports – not legal proceedings, not statements of facts – but reports written by DoS employees of things that may or may not be culled from open source news.

  12. For those who are wingeing about this move: did you complain when Captain Sully had to hire a PR firm? Because he did.

    You all have no idea how many media inquiries come in in cases like this. There is no way normal people are set up to deal with it.

    And it amazes me the concern people show about Wikileaks spending money. Their budget wouldn’t run a decent-sized clothing store, and they are taking on multiple governments and businesses with some of the largest concentrations of wealth on the planet.

    Why don’t you complain about how much money BofA is spending doing advance damage control? They have a 30 person team just going through and talking to execs about what the leaks might say. Why don’t you complain about the incredible sums of money being spent by the US Government (that’s my money too) to try to fabricate a charge against Assange. Why don’t you attack Shell oil for spilling massive amounts of oil in the Niger Delta, then paying ungodly amounts of money to infiltrate the government so they can avoid the consequences while killing and poisoning tens of thousands of people and millions of animals?

    You think Assange should be perfect in every way, with no coach to guide him? I’d like to see you do better, to make repeated public comments with no missteps. You think Wikileaks, which has exposed more major stories than most news publications per year, should be run on less money than BoingBoing?

    In short, why don’t you put your ire where it belongs?

    1. Is it the haircut that pisses you off? Because I can’t think of anything that he’s actually done or said that showed questionable morality, unless maybe you’re in bed with him. And he has some of the most powerful people in the world trying really really hard to discredit him. That’s a hell of a test to pass, or even not fail dismally.

  13. Many of the asinine comments in this BoingBoing thread remind of how much fun punk was before the rednecks started showing up to misunderstand the music to death.

  14. The article in reads like a caption to a photo in a paparazzi magazine. More dirative “journalism”.

    Still, Julian Assange hasn’t been forgotten yet. As they say any publicity is better than none. The interest in him and Wikileaks continues. That’s a good thing.
    I must admit that I would like the general tone to be more positive and deal more with the issues.But what can you expect?

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