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Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 1

H&K GETS $10M U.S. MINT JOB FROM GCI

Hill and Knowlton has won the $10 million U.S. Mint's PR/ad campaign introducing the 50 state quarters, taking over the work from GCI Group.

David McKay, senior managing director at H&K, said the account must be renewed on an annual basis.

H&K's campaign will target coin collectors and school children.

MURPHY JOINS PRIMEDIA AS PR CHIEF

Eileen M. Murphy, 36, who has been VP-communications for ABC News, has joined Primedia as VP/corporate communications, replacing David Adler.

Jeff Ballabon, 37, who is currently executive VP  of PA for Primedia's Channel One Network, was  named to the additional position of VP, public policy.

PR PRO MAKES 'WORTH WATCHING' LIST

Pam Alexander, president/CEO of Alexander Ogilvy PR, is the only PR pro among the 50 high technology executives on Vanity Fair's renamed list of "the eEstablishment."

The list, which includes several top executives, including Richard Belluzzo, group VP, Microsoft; Bob Davis, president/CEO, Lycos, and Robert Pittman, president/CEO, AOL, appears in VF's May issue.

"No one is better at talking up the influential insiders than Alexander," said VF.  "Her PR firm is like the techie F.B.I.: it keeps detailed dossiers on the mind-sets and habits of 25,000 journalists, stock analysts, and other opinion leaders.

"Its minions E-mail instant updates to the database about what's said at 4,000 conferences and events a year (whether onstage or behind the scenes)," the magazine said.

According to the VF article, Alexander travels constantly and knows everyone.

SMITH TAKES PR POSITION AT UDV N.A.

Guy L. Smith, 51, was appointed EVP/external affairs at Washington, D.C.-based UDV North America.

UDV and Guinness Bass Import Co. are the spirits, wine, and beer division of Diageo plc, whose key brands include Johnnie Walker and J&B Scotch whiskies, Smirnoff vodka, Gordon gin and Baileys cream liqueur.

Smith came to UDV from The Hawthorn Group, a D.C.-based PA firm which he joined after leaving President Clinton's impeachment defense team.

Smith also has been COO of Hill and Knowlton, New York, and he was VP/corp. affairs for Phillip Morris Cos., where he spent nearly 17 years.

NEW PR DOT-COM FIRM GOES ONLINE

Getpress.com was opened April 26 as a full-service online PR firm.  The Norwell, Mass.-based firm will conduct business with clients via its interactive website, www.getpress.com.

The agency will target small businesses in the U.S. with annual revenue of $2 million to $400 million, and dot-com companies.

The firm's website has a list of prices for various PR services.

Getpress, which is staffed by 22 former journalists and PR pros, is headed by Constance Hubbell, 38, founder/CEO of The Hubbell Group, which she opened in 1995.  Hubbell will continue to operate independently of Getpress.

The other founders and officers of Getpress are Robert Skelly, former VP/assistant to the CEO at Raytheon, who is SVP/COO, and Loretta Healy, who is SVP and corporate counsel.


The New York Daily News is searching for a VP of PR via Arnold Huberman Assocs.  Other Huberman searches are for CNN, Atlanta, for a VP of PR; Priceline.com, dir., media rels.; StarMedia, bi-lingual director of CC; BSMG, SVP/EVP consumer technology, and Cone, Boston, consumer SVP.

Harlan Teller, executive managing director, promoted to worldwide director, newly formed corporate practice, Hill and Knowlton, Chicago.  He will be responsible for creating products, services and approaches to corporate reputation management and the recruitment of senior corporate professional teams in each H&K region.

Thomas Goodwin, senior VP, Porter Novelli, was named executive VP for international PA/PR firm The Hawthorn Group, Alexandria, Va.  Previously he was VP and deputy director of the healthcare practice at Powell Tate.


Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 2
   

HOLLYWOOD PR PROS GET MORE RESPECT

Hollywood publicists, who were once viewed by their studio bosses as "party planners," have become increasingly vital parts of the management staff, according to Variety.

"With fewer ads, how do you make up for that exposure in a multimedia world?" one unidentified studio publicist asked.

"Publicity is once again perceived as a more valuable part of moviemaking. It's free space and it has the glow of being objective."

Variety said the ideal candidate for a top corporate communications position is someone who will "maintain inexhaustible ability to spin, wheedle and cajole."

The paper said the studios' top PR jobs offer a "fair chunk of change," ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 and up, plus perks such as generous bonus checks and stock options.

In exchange for a big paycheck, management sometimes expects the impossible, the paper said in its April 17 report.

One unidentified PR exec who was interviewed by a producer for a position, said he expected to be in the top 10 of Premiere's Power 100 list every year.

AFindZ.com, a new Stamford, Conn.-based Internet web search company, has chosen SiliconAlleyPR.com for an integrated ad/PR campaign.  The New York-based PR firm is a division of Sperling Greene Assocs.

N.Y. TIMES VISITS FASHION PUBLICIST

Eleanor Lambert is called the "grande dame of New York fashion publicists" in a seven-page article and photo spread of her 13-room apartment in "HomeDesign," the part two section of The New York Times Magazine for April 16.

Under the headline: "Still Groovy After All These Years," Cathy Horyn, the Times fashion critic who wrote the article, said the 96-year-old Lambert "still troops to the office," and still wears turbans and "midriffing camouflaging tunic-and-pants 'uniform'" that the Hollywood couturier Leon Paule makes up in fabrics she sends him.

The daughter of an advance man for the Ring- ling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from Crawfordsville, Ind., Lambert came to New York in 1925 with $100, and by the mid-30's was the fashion industry's premier drumbeater, Horyn said.

She later organized the first New York press showings and ran the International Best-Dressed List, over which she still presides, said Horyn, who noted Lambert has promoted the careers of "virtually everyone who has mattered in fashion, from Mollie Parnis and Anne Klein to Norman Norell and Bill Blass."

When Lambert was 39 and married to her second husband, Seymour Berkson, who was publisher of The New York Journal-American, she moved into an apartment on Fifth ave., with two fireplaces, a suite of maids' rooms and a view of Central Park, and there she has remained, comfortably cloistered, like "an idol in its ark," said Horyn.

ALBRIGHT'S SPOKESMAN LEAVES

State Department spokesman James Rubin is leaving his post in Washington, D.C.  He will move to London with his wife, CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Former ambassador Richard Boucher will succeed him.

In a New York Times May 1 profile, Rubin "grappled with searing scrutiny" when Madeleine Albright's Jewish heritage was made known her first week as secretary of state.

Rubin was said to have "recast the spokesman's post" in an era of what he calls "an increasingly impatient and adversarial American press."

FASHION PR PRO JOINS PUBLICATION

Markus Ebner, a publicist for KCD, a New York-based PR firm that specializes in fashion/beauty, is joining Details as fashion director.

Details will be relaunched in October as a men's fashion supplement by Fairchild Publication's DNR, a trade newspaper for men's apparel manufacturers and retailers.

NEWS ITEMS _______________________

Grey Advertising has established the Grey Global Group as the parent company of all of Grey's communications properties, which include GCI Group and APCO Assocs.

Non-advertising services now represent more than 40% of the company's revenues.

Former PR pro, John P. Margaritis, who runs Research Partners International, has purchased 10,000 shares of the company's stock on the open market.

Since Margaritis—former president/CEO of the Hawthorn Group and Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart—became president/CEO of RPI in December 1999, trading in RPI stock was closed until year-end earnings were released and posted on April 14.

RPI's three operating companies, which are primarily engaged in investment banking, institutional research, securities brokerage and trading, reported a 67% increase in revenues over the prior year.


Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 3
   
MEDIA NEWS/JERRY WALKER
    

TAMPA MEDIA EXPERIMENT IN CONVERGENCE

Media General's new $30 million, 121,000-square-foot facility in Tampa houses The Tampa Tribune, WFLA-TV and online news site.

The first floor of the building is the TV studio space.  The TV and online newsrooms fill the second floor, and the newspaper's newsroom is on the third floor.

Reporters, who once filed stores just for TV or just for print, may find themselves working on a TV story, writing a newspaper article and producing an online version as well.

WFLA consumer reporter Steve Overton and health reporter Irene Maher file weekly newspaper columns.

The Tribune's religion reporter, Michele Beardon, files newspaper stories on Wednesdays that also mention the story that she will cover on TV.

Four days a week, The Tribune's business editor Vernie Kohn files business briefs on WFLA's early-morning newscast.

The convergence works in other areas, too.  Newspaper photographers will carry still and video cameras on assignments.  Video journalists are learning what newspaper photo editors look for, since their pictures may be used in the paper, on TV, online, or for all three.

With the convergence of news staffs, WFLA managing editor Susan DeFraties now has access to more than 100 Tribune reporters for daily news assignments instead of the eight or nine video reporters.

USELESS VIDEOS ANGER TRAVEL EDITOR

Peter Greenberg, Los Angeles-based travel editor for NBC's "Today" show, has advised publicists to stop submitting story ideas with useless videos.

"We cannot, and we will not use: 1) bad sales and marketing tapes; 2) tourist board promotion tapes; 3) fifth generation VHS; 4) hi-8, and 5) slides," said Greenberg in an E-mail that went to hundreds of travel publicists who get his notices of upcoming segments he is doing on the Today show.

Greenberg said he got a few pitches for a piece on great spring travel deals for Sunday Today that were "notably worthy deals, but the videos were unusable and in some cases absolutely unwatchable."

"If you don't have the appropriate, quality supporting B-roll tape, don't pitch me," said Greenberg, who is also chief travel correspondent for the Travel Channel.

PLACEMENT TIPS ____________________

American Lawyer Media, New York, has launched a news service that will expand the company's coverage of breaking law and court case news and analysis to all 50 states.

The company plans to launch the first two regional editions of The National Law Journal later this year in Massachusetts and Illinois.

American Lawyer Media News Service will use a N.Y.-based reporting and editorial staff, news bureaus in Boston and Chicago and a national correspondent network to develop daily reporting of regional legal and law industry news.

Jonathan Barrett is managing editor of ALMNS.  212/313-9142; fax: 445-8441.

Weight Watchers magazine will be relaunched by Weight Watchers Publishing Group, New York.

The May/June issue is due in three weeks.

The magazine, targeted at adult women, will run articles on health, fitness, food and nutrition, travel, women's psychology, wellness, and lifestyle issues.

It hopes to attract readers who are weight conscious and want to lead active, fulfilling lives.

Nancy Galiardi is editor-in-chief; Geri Anne Fennessey, senior editor, and Rebecca Adams, food editor.

360 Lexington ave., New York, NY 10017. 212/370-0644.

"The Biz Connection," produced in Worldwide Corporate Network's Wall Street studios, is now airing daily Mondays through Fridays at 1:30 p.m. (ET) at www.WCNbroadcast.com, a website through which past programs can also be accessed.

This expanded schedule of programming over the Internet supplements an hour-long version of the program being heard weekly over a network of AM and FM stations.

Show host Lou Cattaruzza, who is CEO of WCN, queries guests on the secrets behind their success and gets them to share their insights on money, management and marketing.

Joel Strasser handles guest bookings for the program.  He prefers to get information and pitches by E-mail: [email protected].

Bukaroo Communications, a company started by John Dianna, former president of Petersen Publishing, has started Super Rod and Street Rod Builder.

Steven K. Anderson is executive editor of Super Rod and Gerry Burger is Street Rod Builder's executive editor.

The company, which will be starting several new titles later this year including Hot Compact & Imports (July), Family & Performance boating (Aug.) and Chevy Rumble (Sept.), is located at 12434 Prescilla rd., Camarillo, CA 93012.  805/523-0990.

MOVING: Pet Business Magazine, which was acquired by MacFadden Communications Group, is being moved from Greensboro, N.C. to MacFadden's New York headquarters at 233 Park ave. South, New York, NY 10003.  212/979-4800.

Pizza Today Magazine, which MacFadden also acquired, will remain at its present location in Louisville, Ky.


Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 4
   
MEDIA NEWS/JERRY WALKER
   

NEW YORK AND METRO CHANNEL CONVERGE

New York magazine is putting some of its editorial content on the Internet through a "convergence" venture with MetroChannel, which is owned by Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings.

The service will use content from each week's magazine, including "Intelligencer," the "Cue" section, "Critics," "Best Bets," "Smart City," "Sales and Bargains," and "Gothan Style."

New York and MetroChannel will also collaborate on web and TV extensions of several upcoming special issues, and cultural, entertainment and lifestyle projects.

MetroChannel has 3.8 million subscriber homes in the New York market.

MEDIA BRIEFS _________________________

CNBC, the business-news outlet, plans to build a new global headquarters and studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., pending zoning approvals.

The cable channel, which is now based in Fort Lee, N.J., provides real-time coverage of the stock markets.

The new facility would house www.CNBC.com.

Adriane Berg, who hosts the weekly "Money Talk" radio show, and WABC have been sued by a New Jersey family.

The family claims in papers filed in Bergen County Superior Court that their 84-year-old mother lost $100,000 on a stock investment recommended by Berg at a seminar, which she hosted.

HalfThePlanet.com is a new online resource for the disabled.  The site offers E-commerce, editorial content, classified ads, bulletin boards, a news bureau on disability-related topics, a mentor center and legislative updates.

The site was founded by David Brenner, who said "nearly half of the planet is touched by disability, yet this fragmented consumer market has been underserved."  www.halftheplanet.com.

Expedia Travels will begin publishing in October as a bimonthly magazine for people who plan trips online.

The magazine is a joint venture of Ziff Davis and Expedia.com.

Gary Walther, former editor-in-chief of Departures magazine, has been named editor of the new magazine, which will become a monthly in fall 2001.

Msnbc.com's gossip columnist Jeannette Walls has written a book, entitled, "Dish: the Inside Story on the World of Gossip," in which she traces the history of gossip reporting back 30 years.

Columnist Liz Smith said the book's "piece de resistance" is a chapter about PR people, entitled "The Gatekeepers."  www.msnbc.com.

INTERNET ATTRACTS OLDER SURFERS

People from age 45 to 64 make up a larger share of online users than 18 to 24-year-olds, according to a Media Metrix Web Report.

The 45 to 64-year-olds also surf the Internet more than the younger group, analysts found.

Compared to 18 to 24-year-olds, they spend on average 6.3 more days per month on the Internet, stay logged on 235.7 minutes longer and view 178.7 more unique pages per month.

DRUG CZAR UP IN ARMS OVER WAR PROBE

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug czar, has written to news organizations to complain about an investigation by Seymour Hersh, who is writing an article for The New Yorker.

McCaffrey said Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, is examining allegations that the division, which he commanded, had committed war crimes during the 1991 Gulf War.

In making correspondence available to reporters, Howard Kurtz, who covers media for The Washington Post, said McCaffrey is "adopting the increasingly popular tactic of a news subject trying to make the journalist the issue before he delivers his findings."

McCaffrey said Hersh is conducting "defamatory" interviews filled with "false allegations" and is doing so out of "personal malice."

PEOPLE ______________________________

John S. Carroll, 58, who was the editor of The Baltimore Sun, was named editor of The Los Angeles Times, replacing Michael Parks.

Steve Hammell was named news director of ABC's Washington, D.C., affiliate, WJLA-TV.

Jerry Mead, 60, who wrote the nationally syndicated column, "Mead on Wine," died April 12.

Paul R. Wieck, 72, a longtime reporter and Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Albuquerque Journal and columnist for The New Republic, died April 20.  


Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 7
   

PETS.COM SAYS SPOKESPUPPET DEFAMED

Pets.com has sued a former writer for Conan O*Brien, the late night TV talk show host.

The company, whose PR firm is Catan Comms., Mine Hill, N.J., charges Robert Smigel wrongly damaged its Sock Puppet with his routines on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Triumph, which is also a dog handpuppet, is famous for insulting Conan and his guests by showering them with compliments then negating it all with his catch phrase: "...for me to poop on!"

Pets.com, which sells pet products online, is demanding $20 million in damages for defamation and trade libel, in a suit filed in San Francisco.

TAYLOR CHALLENGES PR PRO'S STATEMENT

Taylor Made Golf Co. has challenged a statement made by an unidentified PR pro for Callaway Golf Co. that robotic testing of golf balls is flawed in a full page ad in several newspapers, including USA Today.

The ad, which challenges Callaway's decision to stop using a robotic golfing machine to test its new golf ball, cites an expert witness who said robotic golfing machines have been shown to provide "consistently reproducible golf swings. This makes them particularly suitable for comparative testing."

Next to it, an unnamed Callaway PR professional is quoted as saying: "Robot testing of balls is flawed. 'You can dial in any result you want. That's why we never use any comparative robot testing.'"

The main body copy asks: "How do you explain this apparent duck hook?  While the rest of the industry sees robotic testing as far and away the most valid method to test the attributes of a golf ball, Callaway seems to differ.  Which, in itself, is fairly remarkable, given that just a couple of years ago, they swore by it.  Why the change of mind? Maybe it's because they've just spent $170 million coming up with a ball—the red Rule 35—that when tested by an independent firm following USGA guidelines, came up nearly five yards shorter and produce markedly lower 8-iron spin rates that the Taylor Made InerGel Pro Distance ball."

TRAVEL PR DIRECTORY IS PUBLISHED

The first Discover USA PR Directory has been published by the Travel Industry Assn. of America.

The directory lists all 54 U.S. state and territorial travel offices plus Wash., D.C., and Puerto Rico.

It also lists 100+ convention and visitors bureaus and more than 100 travel attractions in the U.S. along with individuals to call for information.

With this list, a journalist can contact the exact person who can assist them with research, press kits, slides, photos and press trips, according to Michael Pina, who is manager of PR for TIA, Wash., D.C.

Another new TIA service is TravelNewsLink, which connects journalists with 1,200+ U.S. travel industry PR professionals.

WINFREY PUTS A GAG ON HER EMPLOYEES

Oprah Winfrey, who said "Free speech not only lives, it rocks," after a not guilty verdict was handed down February 1998 by a U.S. District Court jury in Amarillo, Tex., muzzles her own employees.

A group of Texas cattle ranchers had sued Winfrey, claiming she and a guest had "knowingly and falsely depicted American beef as unsafe" in a segment called "Dangerous Food" that aired April 16, 1996 on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"I come from a people who have struggled and died in order to have a voice in this country and I refuse to be muzzled," said Winfrey as she left the courthouse.

But, to work at Harpo Inc., the corporate parent of Winfrey's production studio operation, all employees must sign a confidentiality agreement that muzzles them for the rest of their lives.

Winfrey's covenant says employees are "obligated to keep confidential and never disclose, use, misappropriate, or confirm or deny the veracity of any statement or comment" concerning the private life or business dealings of Winfrey or Harpo.

Elizabeth Coady, a former senior associate producer for Harpo, who challenged the legality of the agreement in March 1998 when she quit, described Harpo as "a company ruled by fear."

"There's no sense of justice inside, which is so ironic in light of the public image of someone who touts herself as an advocate for business ethics and spirituality," said Coady, who wanted to write a book about her experiences producing episodes of Winfrey's talk show for 4.5 years.

OMC NET UP LARGELY ON STOCK SALE

Omnicom's first quarter net rose 119% to $143.5 million largely on the sale of four million shares of its Razorfish stock at $35 March 14.

Razorfish, a web company, hit a high of $56 on Feb. 14 and is now around $20 after sinking to a low of $18 in April. Omnicom had a pre-tax gain of $110M on the stock sale. Excluding Razorfish, first quarter net was up 22% to $79.9M and revenues were up 20% to $1.379 billion.

Diluted earnings per share were up 22% to 45 cents.

IPG PROFIT RISES, EXCEEDS ESTIMATES

Interpublic Group of Cos. reported a 27% surge in first quarter operating profits to $57.1M, handily beating Wall Street's expectations.

Revenues rose 20 percent to $1.1B, with a 27% increase in domestic operations and a 13% increase in international operations.  Specialized marketing and communications services for the first quarter of 2000 were 41% of total worldwide revenue, compared to 36% in the first quarter of 1999.

IPG earned 20 cents a share vs. the 18 cents that was forecast by FirstCall/Thomson Financial.


Internet Edition, May 3, 2000, Page 8
    
PR OPINION/ITEMS

The Institute of PR (U.K.) has published a booklet saying that the Internet could be the "end of spin" but it's not sure.  The booklet's title, "The Death of Spin?" is a question rather than a statement.

IPR's ambivalence is to be expected since its 6,000 members work for companies, associations and PR firms that favor control of information.

PR's role, according to the booklet, is to help an employer decide "what information it makes available where and when–no organization should have total 100% commitment to transparency."

The chaotic world of the Internet is a vast new problem for controllers of information, notes the booklet. PR people now have to monitor numerous websites including chat rooms, message boards and especially their own Intranet systems, since anything newsy on the Intranet soon ends up on the Internet.

Especially worrisome, says IPR, is the fact that an individual with a good idea can stand a giant organization on its head: "Individual opinions carry more weight...smaller interest groups can present their cases as well as large groups..."

Postings remain visible for years, says the 28-page booklet (45 from www.ipr.org.uk). The argument that people will forget a negative item can't be made anymore.

We found plenty of negative items on the web in researching NFO Worldwide when its executives stonewalled us after its recent sale to Interpublic. The Yahoo NFO message board had 136 messages dating back two years. The first posting in May 1998 said, "This company is ripe for buying," which turned out to be true.

Other messages discussed insider trading; problems with new products, divisions and acquisitions; articles in the media, etc.

IPR says that PR pros must watch and attempt to control the information flow.  Marketers, who have largely taken control of PR via integrated marketing communications, insist on message uniformity. For instance, the 1999 annual report of Young & Rubicam says a brand is the "sum total of all consumer touchpoints...brands are forged in the mind." Interpublic says strategy and creativity are important but consistency in expressing the concept may well turn out to be the factor that "separates the `players* from the rest."

Imagine the reaction at Interpublic when the following message was posted on the IPG Yahoo message board April 24 following IPG's $675 million dollar acquisition of NFO, which had $457M in sales in 1999:

"This company (NFO) is a total dog–the bottom is dropping out of the custom research business as a lot of it can be done for 1/10th the price over the web and barriers to entry are low. Online panels are worthless. This is one where the NFO execs pulled one over the IPG execs' eyes. The NFO execs know this well as many of their acquisitions over the past few years have totally tanked–especially after the earn outs. And staff execs that are any good run away. This last year's worth of results show the disintegration of NFO."

There is no IR or PR pro at IPG to rebut this negative assessment of NFO.  NFO plunged from $21 to $5.50 at one point in 1998 and IPG lost a third of its value following announcement of its deal to buy NFO.

Message boards are under heavy attack.  Companies usually refuse to make any rebuttals and we have heard IR people call the boards "garbage dumps." Some offended companies have sued to rip away the cloak of anonymity that emboldens the authors of messages. In defense, some dissidents use web connections at public libraries to block companies from tracking them down. Free-wheeling websites like Yahoo's are becoming rarer. In the U.K., it's much easier to sue a web critic than it is in the U.S.

An NFO message that intrigued us was this one: "What other company can they acquire, destroy the culture, and wonder why a mass exodus of employees occurs?"

We have yet to research the numerous NFO acquisitions but we do know of dozens of acquisitions of PR firms where the culture was changed, executives and key staffers departed, and the name of the firm was dropped.

PR firms that were open, easy-to-deal-with and press-oriented as well as client-oriented became secretive, totally client-oriented and almost impossible to deal with. Their  PR programs for themselves evaporated. Speeches, public appearances by executives, and participation in professional groups came to a halt. Their employees became fearful of press contact. Instead of a single spokesperson, the firms adopted the policy of having no spokesperson.  In place of PR programs and PR community leadership came extensive ad campaigns. Some of the PR firms owned by Interpublic, Omnicom and True North are now spending hundreds of times what they used to in house ads including double-truck ads in the Wall Street Journal (book rate: about $300K) and full pages in the New York Times ($100K) often publicizing awards they have won. The buying power of the ad agencies no doubt gets the PR firms a lower rate.

    

 

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