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Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 1


Incepta Group, which owns Citigate Dewe Rogerson, is acquiring Sard Verbinnen & Co., a New York corporate and financial PR company specializing in crisis communications and M&A communications.  Incepta will pay $58 million in initial consideration for the firm.

Sard Verbinnen was founded in 1992 by former Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart executives George Sard and Paul Verbinnen.  Last year it earned a reported $13.8 millio in fees with such clients as Sunbeam, Symbol Technologies, Northwest Airlines and J. Crew.

The $58 million price tage is unusual, considering Young & Rubicam paid $30 million for rival firm Robinson Lerer Montgomery.  One factor is that SV has been involved in over 200 mergers and acquisitions, including Pfizer and American Home Products' battle for Warner Lambert, General Dynamics' acquisition of Gulfstream Aerospace and Allied Signal's acquisition of Honeywell International.

Further consideration is payable in shares depending on future financial performance of SV over the period to Feb. 2005.  The further consideration will be up to a maximum of $92 million in ordinary shares of Incepta, creating a potential toal of $150 million.

The cash element of the transaction was met by a vendor placing of 15,880,969 ordinary shares in Incepta.  In addition, Incepta has placed 16,551,900 shares at the same price.

David Wright, CEO of Incepta, expects the deal to be "earnings enhancing" within a year.

George Sard, chairman/CEO of SV, said the transaction represents "a unique opportunity to join a growing organization that shares our values and goals." and have appointed Edelman PR Worldwide as counsel.

Kinkos and TekInsight join other Edelman technology clients including Expedia, Ericsson, VenSign and Autonomy.

The agency will handle the launch of this summer.  The web-based service, which is based in Alexandria, Va., will allow customers to customize business cards, resumes, and stationary.

Steven Ross, CEO of, said the firm uses new streaming XML technology to help clients manage real time Internet information flow.


General Electric tapped Shandwick International for the GE Refrigeration 2001 account. BSMG Worldwide and Burson-Marsteller also tried for the account, said to be worth between $500,000 and $1 million.

Refrigeration 2001 is the GE's biggest product launch since 1996.

Shandwick has managed major trade shows, analyst meetings and events for GE appliances in the last 18 months, helping with the national launch of the Advantium speed cook oven, as well as the Triton dishwasher and the Monogram line of home products. Account manager Greg Mauldin will head the account from Shandwick's Louisville office.


Michael Burns, who was head of Burson-Marsteller's Los Angeles office, has joined AMG, as head of PR.

Burns is the first PR pro hired by the company, which was opened 16 months ago by Michael Ovitz.

Peter Wilkes, a Sony Pictures Entertainment publicity veteran, also was hired to handle press relations on a consultancy basis for AMG.


Interpublic's attempt at its biggest merger ever (a $600 million deal for the NFO research firm exceeded only by its $240 million purchase of Shandwick in 1998), could be cancelled because of the declining stock price of the ad/PR conglomerate.

NFO Worldwide, a conglomerate itself of dozens of research companies that lost $6.2M in 1999 on sales of $457M, has the right to pull out if IPG's stock dips below $44.  It was $39 on April 17.

The declining price means that NFO shareholders would get less than $26 a share for their 22.3M shares and outstanding options for 1.7M shares.  NFO traded at $21 on April 17.

Another company (possibly WPP Group) recently bid $27.50 a share but this was rejected by NFO.  NFO, founded in Toledo and where 900 of its employees are based, was owned by publisher Robert Maxwell from 1988-91.   He sold it back to NFO executives for $37M.

IPG was to pay as much as $624 million for NFO, which had a profit of $14.5M on sales of (continued on page 7)

Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 2

Journalists examine the crumbling state of news reporting in "The Business of Journalism: Ten Leading Reporters and Editors on the Perils and Pitfalls of the Press (The New Press; $16.95, paperback).

Former New York Times correspondent, Sidney Schanberg, for example, laments the retreat from old standards that respected privacy, avoided anonymous sources, and took responsibility for the accuracy of what was printed or aired.

Ronnie Dugger, founding editor of the Texas Observer, outlines how corporate control of the media has undermined journalistic independence, while Pat and Tom Gish share their experiences as owners and editors of a smalltown paper that has been boycotted, threatened, and even torched because of their insistence to report more than just "happy news."

Self-censorship is a daily reality for most news organizations.  E.R. Shipp, ombudsman for The Washington Post, take readers inside the newsroom to witness how important stories are ignored because of reporters’ ambitions, internal politics, or one editor’s personal definition of what is news.

Similarly, James Warren admits that after taking the reins of The Chicago Tribune’s Washington, D.C., bureau, he was given an instant education in how some members of the Washington press corps choose their stories based on the pressures of competition, alliances with top politicians or special interests, or the desire to become journalistic celebrities —leaving many important stories unreported, or under reported.

Former president of the National Assn. of Black Journalists Vanessa Williams speaks of the importance of integrating the newsroom if we hope to report the stories that really matter to a community.

Jay Harris, publisher of Mother Jones, offers a glimpse into the business realities behind reporting the news, explaining how the important facts behind many stories are frequently swept under the carpet by the media-conglomerate news outlets.

The book was edited by William Serrin, an associate professor at NYU’s school of journalism and a former reporter for The New York Times.


Burke Stinson, who is PR manager at AT&T, Basking Ridge, N.J., said a corporate casual dress policy may be unsuitable for PR pros.

AT&T went from dress-down Fridays to dress-down every day.

It’s human nature to push the edge and see what we can get away with, Stinson told The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.

"It’s kind of come as you are, or come as you want," Stinson told the paper, which noted other large firms, such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, J.P, Morgan, and Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft, a New York-based law firm, have also relaxed their policies to allow employees to dress casually every work day.

In the early days of AT&T’s corporate casual policy, Stinson said he was working for the day in New York, wearing khaki colored jeans, clogs, a blousy shirt and beads when a story broke and a camera crew called to say they were coming for an interview.

Stinson ran to The Gap and bought a shirt and tie.  When the crew arrived, he asked if what he was wearing was okay.  They told him they wanted something more businesslike, so he borrowed an Armani sport coat from a colleague.

Jim Ammeen, president/CEO of Neema Clothing, a tailored menswear company, who is a member of the Dress-Up Thursday steering committee, said his group plans to commission a study on whether casual dress hurts corporate productivity and increases flirting in the office.


Katherine Moore, SAG national director of communications; Jane Wallace, New York PR director; Catherine York, national director of government relations, and Rafe Greenlee, PR program director have left the 97,000+ Screen Actors Guild.

In her letter of resignation, Wallace cited "an unprofessional and hostile environment" for many staffers.

"Many members, here and in Los Angeles, have little or no respect for senior staff’s experiences, abilities, objectivity and understanding of the issues," she added.

SAG president William Daniels, elected last fall,  said he does not know what Wallace is referring to.

The departing PR pros were appointed under Richard Masur, who Daniels defeated.


David Grossman, who was one of at least six communications directors for McDonald’s Corp., has opened his own firm in Evanston, Ill.

Grossman, who specialized in employee PR, gave himself the title of "thought principal."

McDonald’s and Headway Corporate Services, an executive search firm, are clients.

Grossman, an immediate past president of PRSA/Chicago, worked six years for McDonald’s and 2.5 years for Golin/Harris, Chicago.

His firm is at 680 Hinman, #300, 60202.  847/ 332-2273; fax: 2293; [email protected]

Former Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger president Alan Ziegaus and environmental consultant Chris Wahl have formed Southwest Strategies, San Diego, a PR and PA firm specializing in crisis communications, media preparations and environmental communications.  Wahl is Ziegaus’ son-in-law...E-Stamp Corp., San Mateo, Calif., has selected Blanc & Otus PR, San Francisco, for promotion of products beyond Internet postage...AARP is conducting a nationwide search for the newly created position of dir., organizational rels., reporting to Bill Novelli, associate executive director.

Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 3


Two New York health beat journalists gave Publicity Club of New York members their prescriptions for getting medical stories covered.

Carla Cantor, project manager at CBS Healthwatch/Medscape, told a crowd of 120 on March 30 that she likes to get press kits containing nicely packaged presentations.

Cantor finds the information in these kits useful to her and the other staff reporters in covering a story.

Write Lively Headlines

Cheryl Wills, who is health reporter for NY1 News, the local TV station which is owned by Time, said she is so busy running a one-woman newsroom that publicists must "get my attention with a lively headline" on a press release.

Wills, who opens her mail, does the booking, and is her own camera person and editor for her daily on-air reports, cited as an example a release with a headline that read: "How to Lose Weight by Playing with Your Balls."

The release was about an exercise program using rubber balls devised by a Russian physician in Brooklyn.  Wills covered the story.

While she prefers to get information by fax, she gave her phone number also: 212/465-0185; fax: 563-7632; [email protected].

Beat List Provided

Cantor gave out a list of channel assignments for her website:

Bruce Clearly—Alzheimer’s disease, eye care, HIV/AIDS, transplantations, sexual health; John Casey—alternative medicine, heart health, impotence, men’s health, migraines, sleep disorders, weight management; Chris Dickey—addictions, cancer, multicultural health; Cantor—breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, Hepatitis C, menopause, mental health/depression, pregnancy, parenting and child health, senior health; Heather Hatfield—arthritis and rheumatism, bone, muscle and joint, digestive disorders, pain management, teen health, sports medicine and fitness, women’s health (conference coverage); Eric Sabo—allergy, asthma, health and wellness, lower back pain, people with disabilities and skincare, and Jennifer Warner, breaking news.

The general phone number is 212/760-3100; fax: 760-3141.

Nancie Steinberg, director of the Cabrini Medical Center, was the PCNY program coordinator.

CFO Magazine is accepting nominations for the 2000 CFO Excellence Awards, which are sponsored by CFO Publishing and the consulting firm Arthur Andersen.  Winners will be profiled in the October issue of CFO.

Nomination forms are available in the magazine.  Deadline for submissions is May 15.


Ellyn Schindler, a senior A/E at Berry Assocs., Morristown, N.J., gives 14 pointers on writing for the web in CCM Communicator, the newsletter of the Council of Communications Management.

Here are six of her tips:

1. "Write for the skimmer and scanner.—Use short paragraphs (a maximum of seven lines), numbered lists and bullet points.

2. "Write every page as if it’s the front page.— Many readers may not enter your site through the ‘front door,’ or home page.

3. "Think pyramid power.—Use the journalist’s inverted pyramid, which places the most important points at the top.

4. "Choose chunky.—Web writers should write in `chunks’ that fit neatly on one screen.  Each screen should not exceed 100 words, with no more than three screens per story.

5. "Create space—The more white space, the better.  Double-space between paragraphs, and put two spaces after periods so it is easier for users to see sentence breaks.

6. "Use a sans-serif font."


The first in a series of advanced PR seminars is scheduled for May 18 at the new Subotnick Financial Services Center at Baruch College in New York.

The two-hour seminar, which will be presented by Baruch’s Division of Continuing Studies, will feature a panel discussion on TV publicity and media relations.

The panel consists of Gloria Clyne, former NBC News consumer reporter; Alan Goldsand, an IR pro and former broadcast business reporter, and Susan Liscovicz, a business reporter for Cable News Network.

Mark Leeds, an independent PR consultant who is a parttime PR instructor at Baruch, is panel moderator.  He also is a former president and program chairman of the Publicity Club of New York.

Maria Salerno, who is an administrator with the Division of Continuing Studies, said Bernard Lynch,   the business programs manager, is interested in presenting a series of advanced PR seminars in 2000.

Salerno said a lot depends on the response to this seminar, which will begin at 8 a.m. on the 7th floor of the conference center, located at 151 E. 25th st.

The $100 registration fee includes breakfast.

212/802-5606., a Miami-based Internet company, has launched an online health and medical website for Spanish-speaking consumers.

The site will offer information on ailments, illness, nutrition, fitness and wellness plus medical databases, publications, and real-time medical news.

Jose Velez-Silva was named chief marketing officer of the site. is located at 2915 Biscayne blvd., 33137.  305/572-9400; fax: 573-3344.

(Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 4

Stephen W. Coz, editor-in-chief of The National Enquirer, Boca Raton, was promoted to editoria director of the new consumer magazines division of American Media, which publishes the Enquirer, Star, Globe, Sun, Weekly World News, Country Weekly, Mira, AMI’s AutoWorld Weekly and other titles.

He will oversee the direction and content of the division’s new launches and acquisitions.

David Perel, executive editor of the Enquirer, was named deputy editorial director of the new division, and Val Virga, assistant executive editor of the Enquirer, was named creative director.

All three will continue to perform their existing editorial duties at the Enquirer in addition to their new responsibilities.

Tony Frost, editor-in-chief of Globe, is now editor-in-chief for the Star and the National Examiner as well.

Brian Williams, editor of the Examiner, was promoted to editor of Globe, and Ray Villwock was named editor of the Examiner.  Both report to Frost.

Candance Trunzo and Jim Lynch, currently editors at Globe, were named co-executive editors of the Star.

Eddie Clontz, editor-in-chief of Weekly World News, was named editorial director for Sun, Crackled and the Detective series.

PEOPLE __________________________

Dorothea Cooke, previously managing editor, was promoted to director of editorial development at, Alexandria, Va.  She will be responsible for expanding news coverage.

Anne Alexander was named editorial director of Rodale Books, which plans to publish about 35 titles this year.  She will continue to oversee the editorial content of Prevention magazine.

David Mills, a former reporter for The Washington Post, who wrote scripts for "NYPD Blue" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," is working up a pilot for HBO about life, love and politics in Washington, D.C.  Post "Style" writer Sally Quinn is developing a soap opera series called "Georgetown" for NBC.

David Argabright, associate editor for Open Wheel Magazine, has joined TVV Sports as a pit reporter for Pennzoil World of Outlaws series telecasts.


Verde Media, San Francisco, has been established to provide information about green information, products and services for online, broadcast and print outlets.

Peek Garlington III, who helped start several Internet companies including, is  founder and chairman of Verde, which is backed by investors including Gryphon Ventures and Lehman Venture<%-2> Capital along with such individuals as Ted Turner, Chris Blackell, founder of Island Records, and D<%0>oug Morriss, president/CEO of Morriss Holdings.

Garlington’s wife, Jennie, is an environmental journalist for CNN.

Kelly Rickenbacker, who is EVP of programming, said Verde’s news staff will develop proprietary lifestyle content and news reports on everything from money matters to home and garden.

Rickenbacker was previously general manager of the Newsstand Production Group at CNN, where he was responsbile for the start-up of the unit.  He was also senior producer of the CNN environment unit and oversaw weekly programs "Network Earth," and "Earth Matters."

Rickenbacker is in the process of assembling a news staff from traditional broadcast and print media, as well as from online properties and publications focused on the environment, travel and recreation, health and healing, gardening and more.

Among the new hires are: Jon Zilber, who is VP of content; John McManus, managing editor; Tracy Shea, executive producer, convergent media; Tim Naegle, executive editor; John Maccabee, executive producer; Michael Mechanic, editor, and Chris Clarke, assignment editor, who was previously editor-in-chief of Earth Island Journal.

Ogilvy PR Worldwide in Washington, D.C., is handling PR for Verde Media.

PLACEMENT TIPS _____________________

Dwell, a new shelter magazine published by Pixie Communications, will premier with the Sept./Oct. 2000 edition.

The San Francisco-based magazine will feature coverage about both the interiors and exteriors of modern home designs.

The magazine will target affluent and educated 25 to 40-year-olds.

Karrie Jacobs, who was founding executive editor of Benetton’s Colors magazine and New York Magazine’s architecture critic from 1996-99, is editor-in-chief.

Andrew Wagner, the founding editor of Limn and Dodge City, is managing editor.

The magazine will be published six times per year and will start with a paid circulation of 50,000.

The magazine’s offices are located at 99 Osgood pl. 94133.  415/743-9990; fax: 9970.

The Washington Post is looking for ugly travel photographs.

The paper’s travel section editor has invited readers to submit images that illustrate some small or large truth about a particular place or vacation.

Winning entries will receive either a beach towel or coffee mug.

Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 7

PRSA has budgeted $150,000 for its "chief PR officer" and hopes to have the job filled by June, chair Steve Pisinski said in a telephone interview April 12 with O’Dwyer staffers.

Also participating was PRSA president Ray Gaulke. Treasurer Joann Killeen was scheduled to take part but had another engagement.

Twelve of the 17 board members of PRSA plus Gaulke made the trip to London last week for a meeting with the board of the Institute of PR, a 6,000-member group similar to PRSA.

An $18,000 charge at Berners Hotel was picked up by PRSA as well as air fare of about $7,000. Some meals were paid by PRSA or the IPR.

Not making the trip were Sandra Longcrier, Thomas Bartikoski, Reed Byrum, Mitch Head and Roger Lewis. Present were Pisinski, Killeen, Kathleen Lewton, Samuel Waltz, Deanna Pelfrey, Del Galloway, Ralph Kam, Judith Phair, Maria Russell, Stephen Shivinski, David Simon and Art Stevens.

PRSA and IPR are cooperating on professional development, ethics, education, accreditation and new communications channels. A panel on "spin" took place but no details were available. There were no reports of it on the PRSA or IPR websites.

PR Tactics "Does Not Cover News"

Asked why John Elsasser, editor of PRSA’s monthly "PR Tactics," was not on the trip to cover the "spin" panel and other parts of the historic meeting, Gaulke said that Tactics "is not a news magazine" (although two columns are labeled "News and Views"). He said Tactics is for "professional development" and also has 7,000 non-member subscribers who might not be interested in PRSA topics.

Pisinski ordered Gaulke to produce the membership totals for PRSA from 1982-88 and he complied.

This NL has been seeking the totals to go with statistics on those taking the accreditation exam that the NL already has. Gaulke had refused to provide them, saying neither he nor APR chair Phil Wescott wants the membership totals to be compared with the total of those taking the APR exam each year.

The completed table shows that 273 took the exam in 1982 when PRSA had 10,737 members. A total of 406 took the exam in 1999 when PRSA had 19,600 members plus several thousand members of nine other PR groups who are now eligible for it. The spring 2000 exam drew 217, continuing the longterm decline in candidates as a percentage of total membership. About 90% of PRSA’s members are eligible (five years in PR).  Pisinski reiterated PRSA’s decision not to post on the Society’s website the identity of the 200 or so elected Assembly delegates.

Asked about PRSA’s global initiative, one element of which was to ask companies to join at $25,000 each for the first three years, Pisinski said that is on hold at present.

The international plan created for PRSA for $25,000 by Dusty Bricker Assocs. was "useful" but has been largely replaced by other ideas, he said.

Internet Edition, April 19, 2000, Page 8

The article "Crisis in PR" in the May Red Herring magazine (250,000 circ. and one million unique visitors a month to its website) covers many of the most noticeable aspects of PR today.

It concentrates on high-tech PR, which is almost half of what PR firms are now doing.

The article says clients are being "fleeced of huge fees" and getting "little in return." The main result is said to be that "PR as a profession ultimately suffers from the bad rap."

Here are some of the things that reporter Kenneth Cukier found:

• Writers who approach PR firms get grilled themselves ("What will be the framework of your article?"..."Can you tell us about yourself?"). Dossiers are kept on reporters and access is "blocked" if they have been too negative.

• Media are deluged with releases (many poorly written) but only junior staffers are available to help them. It's a "badge of honor" that senior pros don't have to deal with reporters, a PR exec told Cukier.

• There is high staff turnover in PR firms. Relationships with reporters are not being built. "None of the groundwork to reach those particular (target) reporters was ever laid," complained one client.

• Agencies are obsessed with tracking every minute of the day of PR staffers and billing it out; full fees may be charged for travel time.

• "Many" firms want stock as well as fees; some charge to create media lists that already exist; a "classic" rip-off is "media training"of execs who would never talk to reporters.

• Agencies' "hubris and triteness seems to increase commensurately with their fees," comments Cukier.

• A Wall Street Journal reporter is quoted as being amazed at the low quality of the 40 releases a day she receives, saying she would "like to slap them (PR pros) silly."

Cukier did not go into it but other writers have noted that working PR pros in high-tech are almost exclusively attractive young women. Harper's Bazaar went a step further in April, theorizing the women are in search of the numerous male "geeks" who give Silicon Valley a 70-30 male/female ratio. The New York Times, following the controversial Harper's article, sent reporter Evelyn Nieves to Palo Alto to see what the fuss was about. She visited a few bars where women complained how hard it was to meet men. The NYT front-paged April 10: "In Man-Rich Silicon Valley, It Seems Like" The NYT ignored the angle of women meeting men via PR jobs.

The observations that intrigue us are that high-tech PR staffs are mostly young and female and that turnover is high. A recruiter said that after a couple of years the neophytes are told to bring in their own accounts and that gets rid of them since they have no idea (or training) on how to do this. A new crop of ill-paid college grads is brought in.

We were struck by the similarity between PR and the sweatshops in the Far East which are mostly staffed by women aged 16-23. Naomi Klein visited many such factories and wrote the Canadian best-seller "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies." The factory owners, operating under contracts for Nike, Gap, Levi's, Wal-Mart, Kmart, etc., prefer women and especially farm women because they're so naive and submissive. When they start getting older or pregnant, they're dispatched. They work in fear 12 hours and more a day, and mostly for under 30 cents an hour. The companies get a five-year tax break and after five years just move or supposedly change ownership.

PR pros, meanwhile, live in fear of stories in the press that are not "on message." Marketing execs want consistency and are intolerant of any lapses.

The famous brand names, which profess to be in love with their customers, claim they don*t know about bad working conditions because they just contract the work out. Klein says the same exploitation of youthful, naive workers is obvious in the U.S. at chains like Starbucks, Borders and McDonald's. The multinational companies (MNCs), which comprise 51 of the top 100 economies of the world, are "outsourcing" practically everything these days and turning a blind eye to employee abuses, she writes. Some boast of having "no employees." Even CEOs are bounced after a few years (and their PR execs with them). "No Logo" has a chart of 17 Far East factories, the hours, wages and the brand names that use them.

Klein says the money that used to pay manufacturing wages now goes into expanding retail chains and paying ad agencies to link clients with warm, loving images while the companies distance themselves from horrific employment practices. She feels such hypocritical policies can be exposed with the help of the Internet and demonstrations that "take back the streets" from Gap and Nike outlets. Another Klein theme is that the MNCs (and their ad/marketing agencies) allow only a minimum of info about themselves to escape, thus negating "centuries of democratic reforms" that opened up the workings of governments. "What good is an open Parliament or Congress if opaque corporations are setting so much of the global political agenda in the back rooms?" she asks.



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