Edition, April 7, 2004, Page 1
MEXICO MAY SPEND $8M AT B-M.
Mexico may spend
up to $8 million through Dec. '05 to promote tourism, according
to its contract signed with its PR firm, Burson-Marsteller.
WPP Group unit, which began working for the Mexico Tourism
Promotion Board last April, is guaranteed a minimum $5 million
for its campaign to promote a "positive perception"
of Mexico and its products, and position it as a "high-quality
travel option" for Americans and Canadians. It is to
foster a good image of Mexico while tackling issues concerning
"hygiene and safety" and "counteracting the
negative perception of certain tourist destinations with
relation to contamination and safety."
the U.S., B-M is to play up Mexico's close proximity and
hospitality, while the country's warm weather is to be featured
in the Canadian outreach.
budget depends upon the availability of funds authorized
by Mexico's Ministry of Finance and Public Credit.
FORD'S JENNINGS TO GCI.
Walter Jennings, the former VP-global communications at
Ford Motor Credit Co. ($180 billion in receivables), is
now executive VP and head of GCI Group's North American
Prior to Ford, Jennings headed the Hong Kong office of
Gavin Anderson & Co., handling clients such as Hong
Kong Telecom, Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers
and Barclay's Bank.
Jennings, who is fluent in French and conversational in
Mandarin, represents the "caliber of talent" that
GCI CEO Bob Feldman believes will bring "added value
to the firm's c-suite engagements."
WPP Group CEO Martin
Sorrell could receive up to $80 million in stock over the
next decade if shareholders vote to approve the firm's
amended Leadership Equity Acquisition Plan. The program
covers 19 WPP executives, rewarding them with up to five
shares for each they own depending on whether the firm meets
the performance targets of its key rivals.
WPP shareholders meet April 16 to vote on the revamped
compensation program at the Savoy Hotel in London. The meeting
was originally set for April 7, and was rescheduled to allow
shareholders more time to consider the compensation program.
WPP is parent company of Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller,
Ogilvy PR, Cohn & Wolfe and others.
JETS FLY IN PR SUPPORT.
The New Jork Jets have brought in Linden Alschuler &
Kaplan to provide PR firepower for the team's game plan
to move to a pricey home on Manhattan's west side.
The deal is part of a $1.4 billion expansion project of
the Jacob Javits Center, with $600M coming from the city
and state for a retractable roof stadium and platform over
west side rail yards.
The Jets stadium would also help with the city's bid for
the 2012 Olympics. The team, which is owned by Johnson &
Johnson magnate Woody Johnson, said it would kick in $800
million for the project.
Former New York Sen. Al D Amato is lobbying against the
stadium on behalf of the Dolan family, which owns Cablevision
and Madison Square Garden.
PW IN BUY-BACK FROM MS&L.
Financial PR firm Pondel Wilkinson has split from Manning,
Selvage & Lee three years after the Publicis unit snapped
up the Los Angeles-based firm.
Roger Pondel, PW president/CEO, said in a statement that
the "occasions to work jointly on accounts were not
as often as [the firm] would have liked."
He noted MS&L has invited PW to become an affiliate
of the firm and said PW intends to collaborate with MS&L
"from time to time."
Richard Simonelli, head of MS&L's financial communications
unit in New York, did not return a call about the split.
MS&L offers IR services through its Capital MS&L
units in London and New York.
The firm completed the PW deal in February 2001, highlighting
a blurring of the lines between PR and IR with new disclosure
requirements and changing investor attitudes.
UCELLI TO COLUMBIA POST.
Loretta Ucelli, communications director for President Bill
Clinton's final 22 months in office, has been tapped by
Columbia University as executive VP for communications and
She was executive VP at Edelman in New York and chair of
its crisis management practice.
Susan Brown, VP of PA for the university, told this NL
Ucelli replaces June Massell, who departs to focus on a
consulting practice and to spend more time with a teenage
daughter. She had the post for a year and a half, a term
which drew fire from the school's paper as six staffers
left or were fired from the public affairs office during
Edition, April 7, 2004, Page 2
KAREN RYAN REPORTING.
A failure to follow up by newsrooms and an American public
that doesn't understand the TV news business contributed
heavily to the Medicare VNR flap widely covered over the
last two weeks, according to one of its key players.
In an interview with O Dwyer's , Karen Ryan, a PR consultant
who was the voice on one of the controversial spots, said
a fairly sound story by The New York Times gave way to a
two-week news cycle of distortions and character attacks.
"Newspapers made it sound like Karen Ryan perpetrated
a fraud by somehow getting these spots on TV," she
said. "The American public doesn't understand what
happens in the news business. So when they read the government
is putting out fake news, of course they re angry.
They think, Oh my gosh, our news is coming from the
government and they re hiring actors to do it. They don't
realize a producer or editor put it on the air."
Ryan said the "actor" label is one of the more
egregious tags she has been hit with "hooker"
and a "phony" were notable others over the last
few weeks. "It's not about playing a reporter; I never
pretended to do that," she said. "In just about
every VNR a voice-over will say, I m so-and-so reporting.
You re not telling a newsroom this is the way the story
goes. You re telling them this is what a cut spot looks
and sounds like with your information."
Ryan is a former reporter for NPR's "Nightly Business
The PR pro, who said the VNRs were clearly marked as from
the government, suggested the media attacks on VNRs are
essentially a misguided affront to PR. "PR people and
news people have worked together for quite awhile,"
she said. "It's not a deceitful, terrible relationship.
A TV producer would never know to cover certain things if
a PR person never called."
She is somewhat dismayed that the PR industry and its service
companies were not out front on the issue. Ryan suggested
that perhaps reporters on the story hadn't contacted them,
as few contacted her for the numerous stories written about
Ryan runs the Karen Ryan Group in Washington, D.C., handling
media training, corporate videos and other PR work. She
was called in for the Medicare assignment by Washington,
D.C.-based Home Front Communications and has done the voiceover
for other government VNRs in the past. Ryan notes that the
Clinton Administration also used the tool to promote points
She is most critical of the media for the story, but warns
that if she could become the center of a firestorm, then
few are safe. "Somewhere the perception became that
the government really tried to fool somebody and they hired
me to play the key roles," she said. "If this
is news to the print people, they should take a look at
the way the rest of the media operate."
L.A. PROBES F-H's $3M
Los Angeles has begun an audit of Fleishman-Hillard's $3
million a-year contract with the city's Department of Water
and Power, according to a report in the April 2 Los Angeles
The probe follows complaints by city members about "wasteful"
spending by the utility that is seeking an 18 percent hike
in water rates. Councilman Dennis Zine questioned why the
water and power monopoly needs a PR firm in the first place.
Jack Weiss, who also serves on the Council, told the Times:
"I've always wondered why a public utility needs an
outside PR firm to convince people to flick on their light
switch and turn on their water faucet."
City controller Laura Chick decided to do an audit after
refusing to pay F-H's invoices for December and January.
She questioned billings of $50 to $100 for quarter-hour
periods, in which F-H staffers made phone calls or sent
The Times reports that F-H received nearly $20 million
over the last seven years from the DWP.
Richard Kline, western regional president of F-H, told
this NL the firm is "tremendously proud" of its
work for the DWP, and confident that it did not overcharge
the client for any service.
ADA's FRANZ REJOINS
Jerry Franz, who was national VP-comms. for the American
Diabetes Assn., has returned to Porter Novelli, after more
than a decade, as executive VP and director of strategic
alliances in its health and social marketing practices.
He will counsel the National Cancer Institute and Alzheimer's
Franz told O'Dwyer's that he was "intrigued by a couple
of challenges" offered by PN. The first is to work
on a "terrible chronic disease," such as Alzheimer's
. The second is to "help shape the culture of the office."
He said Rob Gould, PN's GM in Washington, D.C., wants him
to serve as a mentor to staffers. "I ll be successful
when future healthcare job candidates consider Porter Novelli
as the best place to work in D.C.," he said.
PRSA CORRALS MAD
The Washington Beef Commission will unveil how it turned
the PR nightmare discovery of Mad Cow in a Yakima-area dairy
farm into an opportunity to educate the public about the
hype surrounding the disease at a PRSA meeting in Seattle
on April 15.
Porter Novelli is sponsoring the event, featuring Patti
Brumbach, executive director of the Commission. She plans
to provide insights into how the Commission "corralled
Mad Cow mania" and beat back a stampede of initial
negative publicity. "Dire predictions about the industry's
future failed to materialize due in part to the rapid and
reasoned response" of the Commission, says a PRSA flyer.
The luncheon costs $25, and will be held at McCormick &
Schmick's Harborside Restaurant, which boasts of an "incredible
selection of Pacific Northwest seafood."
Edition, April 7, 2004, Page 3
NEW YM TO FOCUS
ON OLDER TEENS.
YM, a magazine for young girls, will be relaunched
with the August "Back to School" issue, which
goes on sale in early July.
Joan LaBarge, publisher, said the New York-based magazine's
new editorial mission is to focus on the "19-year-old
The magazine, which has cut its circulation rate base to
1.5 million, down from two million, also is changing its
frequency to 11 times plus a newsstand special devoted to
Linda Fears, who took over as editor on March 1 after Christina
Kelly resigned, said YM can take this step because its name
does not label the reader with an age that is younger than
her. "It lets her be who she wants to be," said
"I ve crafted this vision for YM because I firmly
believe that there is not one way to talk to all teens
a 13-year-old is so different from a 19-year-old,"
"The new YM is no longer about boys, it's about relationships;
it's no longer about kissing quizzes, it's about opinion
polls; it's no longer giggly, it's celebratory. YM is for
the reader who knows we are on the verge; she looks to us
for what's now and what's next," she said.
MAG. TARGETS FREQUENT
John DeCesare, previously group publisher of Northstar Travel
Media, where he ran three publications and two websites,
was named publisher of Business Traveler magazine.
The magazine, which is published 10 times a year, is written
for the executive-level frequent traveler with coverage
of top destinations, hotels, airlines and a variety of information
and travel tips.
BT is published by Euromoney Institutional Investor in
seven editions including the U.S., U.K., Asia, Middle East,
Germany, Hungary and China.
Eva Leonard is editor-in-chief. She is located at 225 Park
ave. South, New York. 212/754-6980.
NEWSCAST FOR KIDS
IS ON 175 STATIONS.
"Eyewitness Teen/Kids News," a weekly TV news
program for young audiences, with news delivered by their
peers, is now aired on 175 stations.
Among the new stations are all 29 in the Hearst/Argyle
TV group, the largest operator of ABC affiliates and the
second largest operator of NBC affiliates.
Alan Weiss, a former senior program producer at "Eyewitness
News," on WABC-TV in New York, started the 30-minute
weekly program, which delivers age-appropriate news stories
for a national audience.
Besides breaking news, ET/KN features "news you can
use" reports on dealing with bullies, the downsides
of illegal file sharing, and the dangers of teen drinking
and junk-food diets.
"Our anchors and our news, entertainment and sports
reporters, are kids," said Weiss.
The on-air team includes: Cody Gifford, Frank and Kathie
Lee Gifford's 13-year-old son; Haley Cohen, 14, daughter
of CNN anchor Paula Zahn and real estate developer Richard
Cohen, and Mwanzaa Brown, 13, who starred on Broadway as
Young Simba in "The Lion King."
John Meyers, 15, covers the entertainment world, and both
Weiss daughters are reporters.
The show is taped on Saturday mornings by Weiss video and
film production company, which is located at 355 W. 52 st.,
New York. 212/974-0606.
HAS `TROUBLESOME TRENDS.
The results of a study of local TV coverage of health and
medical news found several "troublesome trends,"
such as stories that are too short, too sensationalized,
use only one source and are reported by journalists who
don't regularly cover the topic.
Gary Schwitzer, who is assistant professor of journalism
at the Univ. of Minnesota, reached these conclusions after
reviewing 840 health and medical news stories that aired
on the late afternoon and evening newscasts from February
to May 2003 on the four largest stations in Minneapolis-St.
He found the average length of the stories was 45 seconds,
"a shallow commitment," wrote Schwitzer, who pointed
out the length of health stories noticeably increased during
The study also cited "baseless basic-sciences predication
from all the stations."
For example, KMSP aired a story about research that yawning
indicated empathy for others and that psychiatrists would
use the information to help treat people with schizophrenia.
In his critique, Schwitzer said "no substantiation
was given for the leap" to the schizophrenia claim
and only one source was used.
In another example, KSTP's story about a new "virtual"
colonoscopy exam, the station quoted a proponent of the
procedure as saying the exams showed a more complete picture;
no data were offered to support that claim.
Schwitzer, who once headed CNN's medical news, was surprised
by the absence of local reporters who specialize in health
and medical issues.
He believes the findings are important because surveys
show most Americans get most of their health information
TEEN LATINITAS DEBUTS.
Latinitas, a bilingual online magazine for girls
ages 9-14, which was founded by students at the Univ. of
Texas, marked its first anniversary by starting Teen
Latinitas for young women ages 15-20.
The new magazine will address more mature issues faced
by Latina girls.
Alicia Rascom and Laura Donnelly, co-editors of Latinitas,
can be reached at 512/302-0830.
An analysis of clippings sent by Burrelle's /Luce<%0>
to clients in Febraury indicates 82% are from newspapers
and 18% are from magazines/other print media.
Most (70%) of the newspaper clippings are from daily newspapers,
grouped in these categories: Business (25%), entertainment
(20%), food (15%), lifestyle (15%), local news (10%), national
news (10%), and international/other (5%).
The New York Times is producing a weekly eight-page
supplement of news for The London Daily Telegraph,
and The London Times is putting together a weekly
insert for distribution by the English-language edition
of The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo.
The new Times supplment, which appears in 400,000 copies
of the Telegraph's Sunday edition, is similar to one produced
by the Times for France's Le Monde Saturday editions
and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune,
which is owned by the Times.
The Daily Shimbun supplement, which will be branded The
Times and carry the Times masthead, will offer a weekly
view of news, comment and analysis from Europe.
(Media news continued on next page)
Edition, April 7, 2004, Page 4
TIME TO PUBLISH
WAL-MART'S ALL YOU.
Isobel "Bella" Price was named editor of All You,
a new monthly magazine that Time Inc. will publish for Wal-Mart
Price had been editorial director of five home magazines
at IPC Media, a British subsidiary of Time.
She said feature articles in the new magazine which
expects to debut in October with a guaranteed circulation
of 500,000 will be about affordable, down-to-earth
ideas tested by women.
Initial distribution will be in Wal-Mart stores, which
currently control about 15% of all U.S. newsstand sales
of magazines, according to industry estimates.
In Touch Weekly, a no-frills weekly celebrity magazine
that was started 18 months ago by Bauer Publishing, is attracting
readers without scoops, exclusive photos or hard-hitting
reporting like its three main rivalsPeople,
Us Weekly and Star.
Crain's New York Business said newsstand sales of
ITW, which looks like a "down-market knockoff"
of Us, had doubled in its first year, to 500,000 copies
a week. Recent issues have been selling close to 700,000
copies a week at newsstands, according to CNYB.
Matthew Flamm, CNYB reporter, said In Touch's "coverage
is marked mainly by a publicist-friendly, emphasize-the-positive
attitude toward its famous subjects."
Richard Spencer, who is editor-in-chief, is based in Englewood
PR PRO PRODUCES/CO-HOSTS
"The Metro Golf Show," a radio program devoted
to golf, began its second season on WVOX in New Rochelle,
N.Y., March 27.
The show, which airs every Saturday from 8 to 8:30 a.m.,
is hosted by Bill Meth and Tom Mariam, whose PR firm, Mariam
Communications, produces the program.
Topics covered range from golf equipment to golf-related
injuries to charitable events to the golf games of Presidents
of the U.S. The first show of 2004 had a live interview
with Charlie Robson, executive director of the Metropolitan
Mariam said publicists can pitch him guests and topic ideas.
His firm is at 6 Bonwit rd., Port Chester, NY 10573-1937;
914/939-4294; fax: 939-5344.
BROADCASTING & CABLE.
Mark Robichaux, who spent 13 years as a reporter for The
Wall Street Journal, was named executive editor of news
at Broadcasting & Cable, New York.
PJ Bednarksi, who was B&C's editor, becomes executive
editor of features and special reports.
Robichaux, 38, is the author of "Cable Cowboy: John
Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Industry,"
published by John Wiley & Sons in 2002.
THREE ARE PROMOTED
AT CMP MEDIA.
Bob Evans was promoted to editorial director of Information
Week and Tech Web.
Stephanie Stahl, who was IW's editor, was named to succeed
Evans as editor-in-chief of the Manhasset, N.Y.-based publication,
published by CMP Media.
Jack Soat, previously senior executive editor, was promoted
to editor of IW.
previously with Bloomberg News, where he headed the metro
news team, has joined Women's Wear Daily as managing
formerly editor-in-chief of OK! magazine, was named
executive editor of Us Weekly.
previously at Jungle magazine, was named senior editor
at Men's Fitness.
has joined Overtime, a new lifestyle magazine for
the sports industry, as managing editor.
formerly at W, joined Details as articles
previously articles editor of Good Housekeeping,
is now at Ladies Home Journal in the same title.
who has covered sports for The New York Times since
1959, has authored his 14th book, "A Sportswriter's
Life." Eskenazi will address the Society of the Silurians
on April 13 at the Players Club in New York.
president of Schneider & Associates, a Boston-based
PR firm, is co-authoring a book entitled "New Product
Launch: 10 Proven Strategies," which will be published
in October by Stagnito Communications, a publisher of food,
beverage and packaging magazines. Jeanne
Yocum, a PR practitioner and writer in Granby, Mass.,
A total of 53 journalists were killed in 2003, 15 of them
in Iraq, according to the World Assn. of Newspapers annual
report. Three countries, Iraq, the Philippines and Colombia,
accounted for more than half the deaths. The 2003 death
toll compares with 46 killed in 2002, 60 in 2001 and 53
B, a custom magazine published quarterly by Bloomingdale's
department store chain, wants to have its circulation audited
by Business for Performing Audits International.
The fashion magazine, published by British-owned John Brown
Publishing in New York, is sent nationwide to 270,000 Bloomingdale
Benetton Group, a clothing retailer, is preparing to relaunch
its magazine Colors.
The magazine's editorial director, Kurt Andersen, told
Reuters recently his magazine is focused on serious photojournalism
and social inquiry and is not aimed as a marketing tool
to sell the company's clothing.
Edition, April 7, 2004, Page 7
'GO IT ALONE'
A panel of foreign
editors, discussing the big differences in the perception
of the U.S. here and abroad, laid much of the differences
to press coverage.
panel addressed 200 Arthur Page Society members at the Hotel
Pierre in New York.
survey just released by the Pew Research Center found that
while President Bush is rated "favorable" by 61%
of Americans, he is rated "unfavorable" by 85%
of the French and Germans and 57% of the British.
U.S. press gave lots of leeway to the Bush Administration
following 9/11 and only recently did it start to question
its foreign policies, said Lionel Barber, U.S. managing
editor of the (U.K.) Financial Times.
happened when Democratic candidate Howard Dean "stood
up to the bully in the yard" (President Bush) and attacked
the Administration's war against Iraq, said Barber.
panelists, including Theo Sommer, editor-at-large of Die
Zeit, major German daily, and Siu Wai Cheung, U.S. bureau
chief of Ta Kung Pao, Hong Kong daily, characterized
U.S. coverage as superficial and lacking in sufficient foreign
led the attack, saying: "The U.S. is at the zenith
of its power but its standing in the world is at its nadir."
He said the Bush Administration had a "go-it-alone"
policy that ignored what the United Nations wanted unless
the U.N. could be "conned or hijacked."
percent of Europeans feel Bush is using 9/11 "for an
entirely different agenda" than just fighting terrorism,
the end of the session, Sommer softened his stance, saying
Europe is not going to abandon the U.S. now that the war
in Iraq has been joined.
Barber said he agreed with "a great deal" of what
policy became "completely different" after 9/11,
said Barber, with policymakers seeing an "omnipresent
threat" and making up their minds to go to war "without
its allies," if necessary.
he said, have a "different idea" of how to fight
terrorism. European and American intellectual elites "drifted
further and further apart" after 9/11, he added.
Said Europe Wants Change
Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations
and former columnist and op-ed page editor of The New
York Times, who spoke prior to the panel of journalists,
said about 80% of the foreign leaders he has talked to want
a change of administration in the U.S.
hopes for the emergence of "more moderate" elements
on both sides of the Atlantic.
Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR Worldwide, opened
the spring meeting of the Page Society with slides of new
research by the Pew Research Center showing that trust in
the U.S. is plummeting abroad.
GROUP STACKS DECK.
The Rendon Group has produced a deck of playing cards carrying
the images of Colombian drug lords in its effort to track
down narco-terrorists on behalf of the country's Ministry
cards, however, have not been distributed, according to
The Washington Times. The State Dept. determined
that playing cards are a "poor fit" in a country
as vast and rugged as Colombia. An official told the paper
that groups, such as the anti-government Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia, are hiding out "in areas where
the people are barely literate." Diplomats were surprised
that Rendon produced the cards. The playing card program
is being re-evaluated by William Wood, U.S. Ambassador to
playing card idea was used in Iraq, and got some credit
for the capture of Saddam Hussein's henchmen.
Pentagon's Drug Enforcement Policy Section enlisted TRG
in its "Plan Colombia" program aimed at combatting
drug trafficking. The firm, according to its website, works
closely with the Colombian Army, Navy, Air Force and National
Police on "message development and dissemination, strategic
communications planning, and media event planning."
Jack Abramoff, who faces a probe by Sen. John McCain over
the hefty fees earned from Indian tribes, has hired Dan
Klores Communications for PR.
The $500 an-hour super-lobbyist, and PR executive Michael
Scanlon, the former spokesperson to House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay, generated $45 million for casino work from four
Indian tribes (Agua Caliente in California, Louisiana Cosshattas,
Mississippi Choctaws and the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan)
during the past three years. McCain called those fees "disgraceful."
His staffers also found
that "Scanlon or organizations with which he was in
some way associated" paid Abramoff a previously undisclosed
$10 million fee.
Scanlon heads his own
grassroots PR firm, Capital Campaign Strategies. Abramoff
resigned his position at Greenberg Traurig on March 3.
Richard Rosenbaum, a member
of GT's executive committee, said Abramoff resigned after
"he disclosed to the firm for the first time personal
transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable
to the firm." He is now a business consultant to Interpublic's
Cassidy & Assocs.
Dan Klores would not comment
on his work for Abramoff other than to say he was working
closely with the super-lobbyist's lawyer, Abbe Lowell.
Dan Klores Communications
and Fenton Communications launched Air America Radio
last week. Fenton is running ads on the liberal network
positioning itself as the "good guy" in the PR
business. Listeners are offered a subscription to the quarterly
Fenton Communique, and can sign up for a free seminar in
New York on building communications capacity.
Edition, April 7, 2004 Page 8
U.S. foreign policy
and the U.S. press took a lambasting at the Arthur Page
Society spring seminar in New York last week (page 7).
Not much of a rebuttal came from anyone in the mostly corporate
Some thought that an editor from a conservative U.S. newspaper
such as the Washington, D.C., Times should have moderated
the panel of foreign editors so that the U.S. viewpoint
could have been presented more forcefully.
A just-released Pew Research Center study said that while
54% of Americans trust their government to "do what
is right," only 13% of French citizens, 16% of Germans,
and 21% of U.K. citizens hold that view.
The Chinese, at 30%, are the most trustful that the U.S.
will do the right thing.
The audience did not like remarks by panelists that the
U.S. press had been co-opted by the anger that followed
9/11, becoming, in effect, cheerleaders in the way the Bush
Administration chose to fight terrorism.
The U.S. press and Americans in general were painted as
being intellectually inferior to the Europeans. The foreign
editors felt too little space in U.S. newspapers is given
to foreign news, resulting in lack of sufficient knowledge
about international events.
Readership of daily newspapers has been declining for many
years and is especially low among recent college grads.
Some papers take a "marketing" approach, studying
their readers to see what type of news they want and doling
out coverage accordingly. International news is not at the
top of what readers want.
A Towers Perrin survey of worker attitudes towards company
communications, described in the March 22 Ragan Report,
found that less than half of employees view such communications
as credible. They appear as dishonest to about one quarter
of employees. Ragan says companies should remember that
employees "know the truth"...
Diebold, which makes
voting machines, is coming under flack because of
charges that its new type of electronic devices can be compromised
in some way. Diebold CEO Walden O Dell didn't help things
when he wrote a fund-raising letter backing the re-election
of President Bush. The April Vanity Fair called the
new machines "glitch-prone and vulnerable to hackers"
and warned they will be in most states in November. Diebold
gave nearly $100K in soft money to the Republican National
Committee and nothing to the Democrats, says VF. Don Eagon,
VP, global comms. and IR of Diebold, was president of the
National IR Institute in 2002-2003...
Interpublic gets good
grades from analyst Timothy Connolly of Sconset Capital
Mgmt. for improving its balance sheet by selling
$693 million of stock and convertible equity and other steps.
Noting that IPG has cut its "net debt" from $1.7
billion to $470M, he looks for the stock to rise from about
$15 to the "low $20s" since it's only trading
at 17 times next year's expected earnings...New York Atty.
Gen. Eliot Spitzer had his staff pose as prospective customers
of 22 HMOs and ask them questions about different conditions
and their treatments. He then graded the responses, giving
no HMOs an "A," only one a "B," and
18 of them a "D" or an "F." This type
of research would be unethical for a journalist to do.
Reporters cannot ethically disguise their identities in
doing such research. Spitzer's office is now demanding explanations
from the HMOs (from New York Post March 31)...
WPP Group stockholders,
almost all of them institutions, are beefing about the compensation
plan of the firm (page one). As a stockholder, we
got the 16-page legal notice of the proposed changes which
is packed with about 11 pages of almost impenetrable legal/accounting
prose. It would take a stockholder a long time to find out
what's going on by reading these pages.
The U.K.'s Daily Telegraph did the best job of explaining
the situation. CEO Martin Sorrell could get up to $80 million
(44 million pounds) in rewards in the next decade and 18
other senior executives could also profit handsomely, it
points out. The Pensions Investment Research Consultancy
is against the pay plan, calling it "excessive."
WPP argues that the rewards are comparable to those at
Omnicom and Interpublic. But the Telegraph points out that
executive pay in the U.S. is "far higher than in the
U.K." The number of options given to WPP execs would
depend on how WPP shares perform vs. 13 ad rivals.
But WPP could also award shares based on "exceptional
circumstances. This worries PIRC and Manifest, another pension
fund advisor. The National Assn. Of Pension Funds backs
the pay plan, saying high pay over a long period is O.K.
as long as there is unusual performance. U.S. coverage of
this story has been light...
Kekst and Co., according
to Corporate Control Alert, was advisor on 55 deals
worth more than $100 million in 2003 and involving a U.S.
buyer or seller, making it the No. 1 firm in this category
by a large margin. In second place was Abernathy MacGregor
Group with 29 deals, while third place was held by Joele
Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher. Two U.K.-based firms tied
for fourth place with 20 deals each Brunswick Group
and Financial Dynamics.
CCA explained there was a number of trans-Atlantic deals
last year. Citigate Sard Verbinnen and Burson-Marsteller
tied for fifth place with 13 deals each while Owen Blicksilver
PR handled seven and Edelman PR Worldwide handled five.