Contact O'Dwyer's : 271 Madison Ave., #600, New York, NY 10016; Tel: 212/679-2471; Fax: 212/683-2750
ODWYERPR.COM > Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter return to main page

Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter
Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter
The eight page weekly is the only PR newsletter on LEXIS/NEXIS.
Subscribe today


Jack O'Dwyer's NL logo
Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 1


Dresner Corporate Services, a Chicago-based IR and PR firm, has won a competitive pitch process to guide PR for the Foothill Oaks Casino Resort, an Indian gaming development east of Sacramento, Calif.

Bay Area offices of Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy PR, along with DRGM Advertising & Public Relations, Reno, Nev.; Pacific Research and Strategies, Long Beach, Calif., and M&C Saatchi of Santa Monica pitched.

The casino, slated for a November 2008 opening, is being managed by Minnesota-based Lakes Entertainment, a publicly traded gaming company with experience working with tribal gaming authorities. The Shingle Springs Bank of Miwok Indians secured $450M in financing this year to fund the project.

The 278K-square-foot project was fought by a group of citizens called Voices for Rural Living last year who were against a state plan to install a $45M highway interchange in the area to accommodate traffic for the resort. Dresner is a unit of investment bank Dresner Partners.


Sitrick & Co. is handling crisis duties for Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield who has been accused during grand jury testimony of raping a woman at his Bahamas resort. The Los Angeles firm is working on behalf of Copperfield’s attorney, David Chesnoff, who has blasted the leak of the allegations to the Seattle Times.

Copperfield, according to Chesnoff’s statement, has “never struck, forced himself or threatened any woman.”

The attorney believes the grand jury probe into the charges has been corrupted by the leaking of information of the proceedings to the Seattle paper. Chesnoff describes Copperfield as the rare celebrity without any blemishes to his reputation. “He is a true gentleman in every sense of the word,” said Chesnoff.

The Times reported that Cooperfield met the woman during a west coast show, and lured her to the Bahamas by promising to help the 21-year-old with her modeling career.

S&C’s Mike Sitrick, Glenn Bunting and Holly Baird are working the business.

Andy Card, President Bush’s former chief of staff for six years, has joined Fleishman-Hillard’s international advisory board. Prior to joining the White House, he served as VP-global government relations for General Motors, and president of the American Automobile Manufacturers Assn., the lobbying arm of GM, Ford and Chrysler.


Interpublic posted a $21.9M net third-quarter net loss compared to a $3.7M profit for the `06 period. Revenues moved ahead by 7.3 percent to $1.6B.

Despite the red ink, CEO Michael Roth says the ad/PR combine benefited from “strategic actions” put into place over the past year, as well as new “financial systems and disciplines” that have been put into place corporate-wide.

He noted that IPG’s organic revenues rose 5.7 percent during the quarter, reflecting more spending from existing clients and “net wins.”

IPG’s goal is to achieve double-digit operating margins by `09.

The margin will fall in the 8.5 percent to nine percent range next year.

That reflects an improvement from the “1.7 percent negative margin” that IPG posted two years ago, according to Roth’s statement.

IPG recorded a nine-month $10.8M net loss vs. $100.8M deficit a year ago.

Nine-month revenues were up six percent to $4.6B. Cash holdings slipped from $2B to $1.5B.

Philbin of FEMA Fiasco is APR

PR Society members have condemned the behavior of fellow member John Philbin, fired by FEMA last week after he staged a fake press conference with FEMA staffers posing as reporters while real reporters listening on a telephone line were barred from asking questions.

Several members also criticized the Society for its "wishy-washy" and "passive" response to the scandal.

The 11 members who commented in the public area of the PRS website included Jean Baker, DHS-FEMA external affairs officer, who did not identify herself.

She told fellow members not to rely on the news media and to seek to learn "what really happened." She said Philbin is "a seasoned professional who has enjoyed a stellar career" and that he is APR and a Ph.D.

Philbin received a Ph.D. from the Communication Dept. of the University of Maryland in 2005 where he is also listed as an associate adjunct professor.

Philbin's 2004 doctoral thesis was "Strategic Decision-Making, Group Behavior and PR." His faculty adviser was James Grunig, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Maryland, author, and recipient of many PR awards including the 2005 Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement in PR from the Institute for PR.

(Continued on page 7)

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 2


5W Public Relations pitches Michael ‘Brownie’ Brown, former Federal Emergency Management Agency director, as an expert on disaster and recovery efforts.

Post-FEMA, Brown serves as corporate strategy director for Cotton Cos., a disaster recovery outfit that saw duty in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Brown, who was told by President Bush that he was doing a “heck of a job” in the aftermath of Katrina, was active during the height of the California wildfire story.

He singled out “environmentalists” for the firestorms during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto. Brown believes “greenies” thwarted the “controlled burns” that are needed to thin the California hills.

Brown credited California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for “doing an incredibly good job” in responding to the flames.

5W, which does PR work for Cotton, notes that California authorities evacuated many people to San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, a move it feels is similar to the housing of Katrina-impacted people in New Orleans’ Super Dome.


Hill & Knowlton represents PetroChina, which surpassed ExxonMobil as the No. 1 company based on market cap in its Shanghai Stock Exchange debut Nov. 5.

PC, which was owned by the People’s Republic of China’s Government, tripled in value, positioning the energy giant as the first company with a market cap of more than $1T.

PC, which has a quarter of ExxonMobil’s revenues, is now four times more expensive, noted Bloomberg.

The Chinese energy giant is a favorite target of human rights activists who are upset with its extensive holdings in the Darfur section of Sudan.

Some claim that protests over PCs Darfur connection is a reason why Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway recently slashed his 10 percent holdings in PC to the three percent range.

Helen Tam in H&K’s Hong Kong office leads the PC account.


Ellen Gonda, a director for Brunswick Group, is slated to take over communications for the Americas for The Carlyle Group, the Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm.

Gonda will join Carlyle on Dec. 3 with responsibility for North and South America and reporting to principal and global communications director Chris Ullman.

Ullman said Gonda’s experience will be helpful as Carlyle continues to grow in “established and developing markets.”

Carlyle recently formed a $1 billion venture to invest in the international education services sector. It is also in talks to sell a 9.9 percent stake to a Chinese fund, according to the Times of London.

The firm has more than $75B under management with strong holdings in the defense and telecomms. sectors.


Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, has fired off an angry message to PR pros.

Appearing Oct. 29 on his blog,, Anderson’s rant, entitled “Sorry PR People: You’re Blocked,” railed against the “300 emails” he gets daily from PR pros sending blind email pitches.

“My problem isn’t spam … it’s PR people,” Anderson wrote. “Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor-in- Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching.”

Anderson then proceeded to list the individual e-mail addresses of each of the more than 200 PR pros and spammers who have “sent me something inappropriate at some point in the past 30 days.” A quick glance at the list reveals addresses from Edelman, 5W PR, Fleishman-Hillard, Ogilvy, Lippe Taylor, Morris+King, SS PR, Weber Shandwick, and dozens more.

The idea, Anderson said, is to give PR pros a taste of their own medicine. “If their address gets harvested by spammers by being published here, so be it – turnabout is fair play,” he wrote.

The blog has since been flooded with hundreds of responses, many from angry industry pros who pointed out that many of the “blind pitches” Anderson has received are not directly from account executives, but rather the result of email lists purchased from services firms.

Anderson rebutted that PR pros should not rely on such lists and should instead tailor their pitches individually to editorial staff. He referred to the tactics of such email lists as being akin to magazine circulation departments’ proclivity to place five or six subscription cards in every magazine, a practice he also abhors.


Ruder Finn is handling the grand opening of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art set to open next week in Beijing’s Dashanzi art district. The Center is a project of Switzerland’s Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, owners of one of the most extensive collections of Chinese art in the world.

Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors is handling the work. It receives $15K a month for the seven-month assignment.

RF’s affiliates in London, Paris and Berlin are involved in the Ullens Center campaign.


JB Cumberland edged Lewis & Neale, Hanna Lee Communications and another shop for the Australian Lamb account. The budget is set at $125K for the first phase of the program (Oct. 1-June 30). Spending will then be determined on an annual basis.

JBC’s client is Meat and Livestock Australia, which wants to pitch Aussie lamb as an “everyday” meal option, not something for just special occasions, such as Easter.

The campaign is expected to have a range of spokespeople who will play up lamb as the healthy choice, a meat devoid of artificial additives or growth hormones.

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 3


Brian Tierney, who led a group to buy and revitalize the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and last year, told PR Society's annual conference that his role atop Philadelphia Media Holdings is the toughest job he's ever had.

Tierney, an attorney who successfully ran several incarnations of PR and advertising agencies in the city, called himself a "zealous advocate" for journalists and described his initially tepid welcome as he introduced himself in the Inquirer newsroom last year.

"You could hear a pin drop when I was introduced," he said. Tierney said he is treated much better now. He told staffers that day: "First and foremost we're about journalism. That's what this business is about. And if we invest in the journalism, and we invest in the marketing of journalism, we think we can turn this thing around."

Tierney and his investors grabbed the Philadelphia papers for $562M. He now serves as CEO of Philadelphia Media Holdings.

Tierney said the problems of the newspaper are "oversold" and credited his commitment to raise marketing budgets at the papers with an upswing in readership and advertising.

Tierney said he's spending $14 million on marketing the media properties, a level he believes is appropriate for a $480M company and exponentially larger than the $300K marketing budget the year before his group took over. "You need to invest back in," he said, adding that some journalists were ambivalent about the marketing moves made at the paper. He told them: "I defer to you on the journalism, you defer to me on the PR/marketing side of things."

Tierney, who famously projected images of pigs flying on the Inquirer-Daily News Building this year when the Inquirer posted a circulation gain after years of declines, has presided over other marketing tactics like selling sponsorships to the weekly TV listings to Comcast, getting Citizens Bank to sponsor the business section, and securing sports section backing from Commerce Bank. He's not worried about blurring the line between advertising and editorial, which was the subject of a Columbia Journalism Review feature on him this summer. "Sophisticated advertisers understand that's our reason for being - we have to maintain the integrity of the editorial product," he said. "But we also have to be flexible and relevant.

Sophisticated advertisers know we're not going to change the ratings on Comcast or we're not going to give better coverage to Commerce Bank."

In an audience Q&A after his speech, Tierney was asked about News Corp.'s acquisition of Dow Jones, of which he was said to be a suitor. He said he "kicked the tires" of DJ and saw an opportunity to acquire the company, but noted that he would have needed another media company partner and assume a large debt load. Tierney said he doesn't think Murdoch overpaid and will probably keep his hands off the editorial operations at the Wall Street Journal "because I think there are a lot of journalists over there that would out him pretty quickly."

Tierney said PR people are perceived more favorable by journalists today than they have been in the past, but admitted there are "a lot of ineffective public relations people who burn a lot of gas asking people to do things they will never do." He noted: "Newspaper people view good PR people as a real asset, where it wasn't the case even 10 years ago."

Audio of his address has been posted by PRS online.


Don Imus will return to radio Dec. 3 at Citadel Broadcasting's flagship WABC-AM in New York, which was acquired from Walt Disney Co. in `06.

The shock-jock reportedly will receive $5M a-year, a sum that could rise via syndication deals.

Imus received a $10M pay package, including syndication fees, from CBS, which bounced him after his "nappy-headed hoes" insult directed at the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Imus will replace Ron Kuby and Curtis Sliwa at WABC.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Kuby and Sliwa "typically beat him in the ratings."

CBS, meanwhile, reported a 2.9 percent drop in third-quarter revenues.
The radio division-minus Imus-suffered a 12 percent plunge in revenues to $446M.


Larry Starks, assistant managing editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has resigned the sports beat for a slot at ESPN.

He will be NBA news editor and decide programming for ESPN and ABC broadcasts. Sparks has written for Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Daily News and Memphis Commercial Appeal. He joined the P-D in `98.


PR is a more brutish business than it was in the "old days," according to veterans who addressed a recent Entertainment Publicists Professional Society session in Hollywood.

Cliff Dektar, who began a publicity career at ABC-TV in 1956, believes there are a lot of "nasty PR people and reporters" who need to be dumped.

Doug Duitsman warned the crowd against lying or misleading the media. He urged the audience to be "dead honest" with reporters. He is founding chairman of the TV Publicity Executive Committee.

Gene Walsh was more upbeat, recalling the days working with his dream client, Johnny Carson.

The NBC talk show host would do anything asked of him, only complaining "this is a long way from the beach."

The one-time Carson seem ruffled was when Joan Rivers, a fill-in host, departed for a show on Fox. "We wish her modest success," said Carson.

The Philadelphia Inquirer will launch an electronic edition of the paper in January.

It will be an actual replica of the print paper and be available via subscription.

Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 4


Two legends in celebrity journalism met on October 24 to tell PR pros how to get better radio and TV coverage. Bill Diehl and Sandy Kenyon spoke for nearly two hours to a crowded house at the International Cinematographer's Guild in New York City on topics from their favorite celebrity interview moments to what makes a good press/PR relationship.

"Just like what's happening in the press, I think a publicist's job is now being redefined," said Kenyon. "Stations are killing producers to save money. Anyone who can help people like me get a story on the air is invaluable."

Name a celebrity - chances are they've been interviewed by Kenyon. Perhaps most famously known as the voice of CNN's "The Hollywood Minute," Kenyon previously served as the company's senior entertainment correspondent in Hollywood.

Since 1997, he's held the title of entertainment reporter for 1010 WINS and is also a regular on WABC-TV's "Eyewitness News This Morning."

"The way you can be helpful is to bring me a story that offers something completely different. Apply a hook, something that will get me interested. Make it easy. Ask yourself: how can I make a story attractive? The stories I look for have a very charismatic celebrity in an unusual situation. It's much more effective than having someone in the news room with a splice reel."

Kenyon devoted much time discussing the relationships between publicists and the press. Due to the nature of the professions, reporters and PR pros are forced to develop "long term" relationships. Kenyon said both parties can do much to understand and accommodate the professional needs of the other.

"At this level you've got to know the game. When you're a publicist, you're under pressure to get mentions. When you're a reporter, you're pressured to get the story. The way relationships are built is by understanding the rules on each side. I need you [during] breaking news. If you can deliver on that, I'll remember you forever. It goes beyond getting your mention for that day – it's about making the reporter look good for his bosses."

Diehl, the chief entertainment correspondent for ABC News Radio, said that while new relationships can often be hard to forge, they often start when a publicist displays a knack for smart, poignant pitches.

"I would venture to say most of you aren't representing A-list celebrities. A lot of you are pitching kind of obscure things. Put something really damn good in that subject line," he said. "That will at least get me to open it up."

Diehl's voice has become synonymous with radio. As chief entertainment correspondent for ABC News Radio since the early '80's, you'd be hard-pressed to find a news-savvy American who hasn't heard his distinct drawl. His daily entertainment feature, "Bill Diehl's Spotlight," is broadcast on more than 2,500 affiliates. He's also interviewed virtually ever major celebrity over the years, including DeNiro, Hanks, Madonna and Springsteen, to name a few.

Diehl said he enjoys working with publicists, but said nothing turns him off more than getting pitches laced with blatant product placement.

"We're really down on that kind of thing and we're going to get in trouble if we use it," he said at the Oct. 24 event, which was hosted by the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society.


5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian is profiled as the "bad boy of buzz" with a PR problem by the Nov. 12 BusinessWeek.

The 33-year-old Torossian "courts controversy-sliming rivals, scrapping with journalists, lobbying public insults on behalf of clients." He also has built 5W into "one of America's fastest-growing independent agencies."

BW reports that Torossian has "made a point of taunting his rivals, calling them 'dinosaurs," "old men in suspenders," and "brain-dead." New York counselor Howard Rubenstein and son, Richard, take regular jabs from Torossian.

The magazine credits Torossian's "loud, crass, buzz-obsessed" style for echoing the "raw, unvarnished discourse of the blogosphere."

Reporter Diane Brady speculates that Torossian's brashness runs the risk of "alienating corporate clients by continuing with 'Girls Gone Wild," the soft-porn video operation that 5W repped when its founder Joe Francis surrendered to U.S. marshals on contempt charges. Torossian claims that 97 percent of 5W's revenues stems from corporate work.

The 5W chief credits his success to being "bright." Another reason: "My competitors are not so bright." He feels it's an easy choice to hire an Edelman or Burson-Marsteller, but "it takes guts to hire 5W."

Torossian, in an email to O'Dwyer's, blistered the BW article, saying it does not reflect the reality of 5W.

People __________________________

Lee Woodruff, the wife of former ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, is joining "Good Morning America" as life and family contributor. She co-authored "In an Instant," a book that deals with Bob's recovery process.

Woodruff is contributing editor to Family Fun Magazine and has freelanced for Redbook, Country Living and Health. She also ran her own marketing communications firm and owns big-time agency experience earned at Porter Novelli and Hill and Knowlton.

Rick Smith, who has been at Newsweek for 37 years, is stepping down as editor-in-chief and chief executive next year.

Tom Ascheim, GM of Viacom’s Nickelodeon TV, will assume the CE duties, handling business aspects of Newsweek. Nobody has been tapped for the EIC post, leaving Jon Meacham, editor, the top newsroom executive. Ann McDaniel, corporate VP at Newsweek, takes on the managing director role at the magazine. She is in charge of both business and editorial.

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 5


Bob Rumpza, a veteran agency and corporate PR exec in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, has set up his own shop, Rumpza Consulting, in Minneapolis.

Start-up clients include Marvin Windows & Doors, The Toro Company, Lawn-Boy and Avant Energy Services.

Rumpza was with Weber Shandwick for 17 years leading its corporate relations group in Bloomington. He later joined Nicholson Kovac as senior VP of PR in its Minneapolis office.

Info: [email protected]; 952/956-0946.


Thunder Factory, a San Francisco firm with offices in New York, has formed a digital media group of “like-minded” companies under the umbrella of Thunder Group.

Included in the group is AdJuicer, a user-generated advertising platform; Media Gems, a network of media and marketing properties; MobileGates, a mobile marketing services company, and CollegeCarrot, a network for college admissions counselors and students.

Patrick Di Chrio, of TF, said: “The fact is that there are many incredibly smart companies and thought leaders in the digital media and marketing space, but it’s difficult to succeed as a singular entity.”

He called Thunder Group a keiretsu, a Japanese term for a group of collaborating companies.


Michael & Partners, Dallas, has been renamed HCK2 Partners to reflect the sale by founder George Michael to staffer Heather Capps and Kenneth Kracmer, a former client.

Capps takes the president/CEO reins while Kracmer, who was formerly director of corporate communications at Excel Communications, an M&P client, leads business development as a managing partner.

The nine-year-old firm retains its staff of 25. Michael will act in a consultative, strategic role for the firm.

Capps was M&P’s first employee.

BRIEFS: Peepul PR, a boutique New York firm, is opening a Mumbai, India, office to target global brands, Indian companies, and U.S. companies looking to woo India’s consumer base. Clients of the firm have included Coca-Cola India, Jet Airways and Cobra Beer. Info: ...Taylor has relocated its 30-person Charlotte, N.C., office to Prosperity Place Three, 10150 Mallard Creek Road. Info: ...Waggener Edstrom has signed an alliance agreement with The Jeffrey Group, a Miami firm focused on Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. ...The IPREX network of independent PR firms has added Oak Brook, Ill.-based consumer firm JSH&A PR to its roster. Clients include Beam Global Spirits & Wine, McDonald’s and The Hershey Co. IPREX has an existing Chicago affiliate Serafin & Associates, which focuses on corporate comms., public affairs and crisis work.


New York Area

Peppercom, New York/Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, as AOR. The firm is leading an audit and competitive research project to determine a brand message for internal and external stakeholders. That includes plans to enhace the school’s website and boost alumni relations.


Ogilvy Government Relations, Washington, D.C./
United Parcel Service, for representation on issues related to Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation. Managing director John Green is handling the lobbying effort.

Kleber & Associates, Atlanta/Grand Hall, gas appliances, for marketing and communications. K&A is charged with leading brand development and marketing for the introduction of Eternal, a hybrid water heating system. The firm has also picked up Nichiha USA, a fiber cement technology company. K&A is handling brand development and PR for a new line of building products in the Southeast market.

Thorp & Company, Miami/dmg world media, exhibitions and publishing, as PR and marketing counsel for the Miami Beach Antique Jewelry & Watch Show and similar shows in Las Vegas, New York, as well as the Original Miami Beach Antique Show.


Marx Layne & Co., Farmington Hills, Mich./
Anderson Economic Group, East Lansing, Mich.-based consulting firm focused on economics, finance, market research and public policy, as AOR for PR. AEG has operations in Chicago, Oklahoma City and Dallas.


Berkman, San Diego/Raytel, hands-free mobile comms.; 42Media, digital signage; Packard Hospitality Group, hotel management; Orange County Office of law firm Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps; Cohn Restaurant Group and restaurateur Deborah Scott; Fresh[er], eatery/lounge; Donna Marsh, upscale women’s clothing store slated for December opening, and Shorelines Gallery, art and jewelry gallery.


Eddie Fritts, who stepped down as president of National Assn. of Broadcasters in '06, is repping the Motion Picture Assn. on intellectual property issues.

MPA is the leader in the fight against video piracy. It claims MPA studios lost $6.1B in '05 revenues to "movie thieves." That included $2.4B in bootlegging, $2.3B in Internet piracy and $1.4B in illegal copying.

MPA COO Bob Pisano told the Tokyo International Film Festival Intellectual Property Rights Forum on Oct. 26 that he "looks forward to the criminalization of unauthorized downloading." He wants to forge ties with other industry groups to "educate consumers about the value of intellectual property rights."

Fritts is joined on Capitol Hill by Fritts Group staffers: Kathy Ramsey, who was executive VP-PA at NAB, and John Lively, who was NAB's director of government relations.

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 6


The Radio-Television News Directors Assn. and a “coalition” that includes the top media and news organizations in the U.S., have filed a 15-page statement of support for Comcast with the Federal Communications Commission in the wake of the FCC’s fines against the cable operator for allegedly airing video news releases without proper attribution.

The strongly worded letter by RTNDA’s lobbyist Kathleen Kirby of Wiley Rein and dated Oct. 31 blasts the FCC for its “flawed and unprecedented” sanctions against Comcast as an “unconstitutional” form of regulation and an “affront to First Amendment values.” The letter outlines both the RTNDA’s legal argument against the FCC’s action as well as an overarching defense of VNRs and the first major support of media companies for the “valuable role” of VNRs in newsgathering.

A PDF copy of the letter is at

Among dozens of media entities that signed the letter are the major networks – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – as well as companies like Gannett Co., Meredith Corp. and ABC parent Walt Disney Co. The support of those companies gives significant weight to the PR defense of VNRs, said one PR industry executive.

“The heart of this matter is the FCC’s outright intrusion into the newsroom,” said RTNA president Barbara Cochran.

Comcast is facing $20K in fines for alleged violation of FCC sponsorship identification rules. Two reports by the Center for Media and Democracy last year have brought VNRs to the spotlight. The CMD reports said that use of VNRs without attribution in TV news is widespread. RTNDA has tagged those studies as “biased, embellished, and inaccurate.”

The National Assn. of Broadcast Communicators, a trade group of broadcast PR companies, praised the RTNDA letter as a “very compelling First Amendment case” against government intrusion into news rooms. “Fortunately, we live in a country without an ‘information ministry’ to monitor and regulate the activities of electronic and print journalists or otherwise control the free flow of information through all media, and the NABC agrees with the RTNDA and the coalition of 70 broadcasters that it should stay that way,” the group said in a statement to O’Dwyer’s.

No ‘payola’

Among the RTNDA’s arguments is that Comcast procured the VNRs from CNN Newsource, a third-party in the news process that distributes such PR video material. Therefore, RTNDA argues, no payment or other favor was exchanged between CN8 and the original VNR producer and the so-called payola statute does not apply. “The legislative history shows Congress did not intend for the FCC to dictate how stations should make identifications when they independently decide to use third-party resource materials such as written press releases or their modern day electronic equivalents,” the RTNDA and media companies argue. “By making electronic journalists strictly responsible for the motives and connections of their sources ... the FCC has embarked upon an extraordinarily dangerous slippery slope toward government censorship...”



Tracy McGraw, who held several top comms. posts at VH1, has changed channels at Viacom in taking the VP/comms. slot at BET Networks, New York. McGraw has led media relations for VH1 for the last deacade. At BET, she reports to Jeanine Luburd, SVP/comms. and public affairs.

Douglas Stroup exits Ruder Finn’s branding practice for an executive VP post at Euro RSCG Life PR. The healthcare pro was previously with Nelson Communications.

Karen Vonder Meulen, marketing, events, sports and cultural comms. manager, BMW North America, to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Woodcliff Lake, N.J., as corporate comms. manager for North America. She is taking over in January for Bob Austin, who is slated to retire at the end of the year.

Michelle Lancaster, A/E, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Comms., to Stanton Communications, Washington, D.C., as a senior A/E. Shareese DeLeaver, former press secretary for Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., joins Stanton’s Baltimore office as a senior A/E. Angela Ruggiero has joined Stanton’s New York office as an A/E.

Howard Thill, director of IR at Marathon Oil Corp., Houston, has been elected to succeed Kenneth Matheny, who is retiring as VP of IR and public affairs for the company at the end of the year. Thill is a former IR and PR director for Phillips Petroleum Company.

Lisa Hempel, CEO of Sparkpr, to Eastwick Communications, Mountain View, Calif., in the new post of president overseeing day-to-day operations for the firm. She was formerly VP of corporate comms. for myCFO and VP of marketing at Qwest Communications.

Sarah Catz, who has served as acting deputy secretary of transportation in California, to MWW Group, Irvine, Calif., as a senior counselor. MWW CEO Michael Kempner called Katz a “powerhouse” in transportation and public policy. She continues to sit on the board of an entity developing a high-speed rail service between Orange County and Las Vegas, and is director of the Center for Urban Infrastructure at the University of Calif.

Teala Schaff, comms. consultant for the California Cable and Telecommunications Assn. and an A/S for Porter Novelli, to Perry Communications Group, Sacramento, Calif., as an account manager. The firm has also added three A/Cs: Kristen Haro, Allison Barrett and Andrea Leiva.


Melissa Sheridan to executive VP, Citigate Cunningham, San Francisco. She was key in recent wins BigFix and Keynote. Sandy George was upped to VP and Scott Malinowski to executive VP on the East Coast in Boston for the firm.

Simon Pangrazio to president/CEO of Burson-Marsteller’s Asia Pacifc region, effective Jan. 1. He’s an 11-year veteran of B-M who joined the firm in Melbourne.

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 7


The online directory of PRS lists Philbin as "technical director," General Dynamics Information Technology. Maryland listed him as being with Anteon Co., $1.3 billion supplier to the intelligence community (90% of sales are to the Pentagon) when he received his Ph.D.

Not in ‘Advocacy’ Area of PRS Website

The Philbin story was covered in the news portion of PR Tactics Online rather than in the "Advocacy" area where controversial issues are usually addressed. Link is:

Chair Rhoda Weiss, the sole spokesperson for PRS who comments on issues, is quoted as saying that "FEMA and all government agencies" should adopt the PRS Code of Ethics and that PRS "offers its assistance in order to establish effective guidelines quickly…PRS looks forward to working with FEMA…"

The Oct. 30 PRS web story ("PRS responds to FEMA news conference incident") does not mention Philbin. Some writers who posted comments on the PRS website were not aware he is an APR member.

‘Egregious Violation’

Cassandra Stalzer, PA specialist, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Palmer, Alaska, said she was "disheartened" that PRS could not revoke Philbin's APR "for such an egregious violation of the Society's Code of Ethics."

She said FEMA's actions "tarnish the credibility of all who practice public affairs in the U.S. government. She was also disappointed by "PRS's wishy-washy response-six days after the fact."

David Shank, Indianapolis counselor, called for "righteous indignation" and said: "Obviously the ethical moral compass was massively deflected by a total lack of understanding of professional right and wrong…"

Bonnie Parrish-Kell, president and chief rabbit, Dancing Rabbits Communications, Las Vegas, said the Society's response was "pretty passive" and that "recommending adherence to a set of practices is a long way from true advocacy. Given the severity of FEMA's PR fiasco (yet again), I expected more 'bite' from PRS, our guard dog for our profession, to assure the media and public that true professionals do not act in such a stupid, uncreative way."

‘Glee’ at Bush Administration Mistake

Steve Lubetkin, Cherry Hill, N.J., counselor and former director of PRS, urged "a measured approach" while admitting "FEMA screwed up badly." He said there was "a lot of glee at catching the Administration doing something wrong."

The last posting in PRS's advocacy section was dated July 12, 2007. It criticized executives of public companies who place anonymous comments on blogs.

Mary Beth West, Maryville, Tenn., counselor, former PRS director who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of the Society this year, is the current head of advocacy.

PRS abolished the enforcement part of its ethics code in 2000 when a new code was instituted. Seattle counselor Bob Frause concluded in a report that the previous code was unenforceable because of lack of member cooperation and high legal costs involved in any prosecution.


Echo Media Group works for “Mormons Exposed,” a venture of Las Vegas-based singer and sixth-generation Mormon Chad Hardy who wants to dispel misconceptions about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Tustin, Calif.-based firm is promoting the “Men on a Mission” calendar that features a dozen young, buff and shirtless missionaries who have completed service overseas.

The calendar, according to Hardy’s site, will “certainly raise eyebrows,” but is intended to be a “tongue-in-cheek celebration of the selfless servitude of missionaries.” For instance, “Mr. March” worked with the Red Cross in Namibia distributing polio vaccines.

The calendar has received coverage in the Washington Post, Las Vegas Sun and Kansas City Star. The Post said the “shirtless, sculpted and looking seductive” pin-up guys aim to “debunk the popular image of Mormons as straight-laced corporate types.”

LDS officials do not comment on the calendar because it is a commercial enterprise. Hardy told the Post that Mormons have an “absolute sense of humor about their religion. They realize people think it’s crazy.” Proceeds from the calendar are earmarked for charity.


Julie Roehm has dropped her wrongful dismissal suit against Wal-Mart because pursuing the case has "become more difficult and financially draining," according to a statement distributed by her PR firm, Sitrick & Co.

The marketing communications wiz hired to inject sizzle into the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has accepted "Wal-Mart’s decision to terminate her employment." She is not receiving any money or other compensation to settle the case.

Roehm’s decision also is based on information that allegations she made against Minnesota investor Irwin Jacobs and Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott are false. She had alleged Scott received boats and a "large pink diamond" at a steep discount from companies controlled by Jacobs in return for Wal-Mart contracts.

Jacobs, who is happy that Roehm has "finally come to her senses," has dropped his defamation suit against her. Wal-Mart is ending legal claims against Roehm, who is happy to "move on."


John Salak, senior principal at the Dilenschneider Group, has established The Salak Group headquartered in Hoboken, N.J.

TSG offers services such as message development, media outreach, website development, custom publishing and executive training.

Salak, who has counseled top executives in the U.S. and Europe, is a former journalist. He was posted in London for four years on an assignment for United Media. He is joined by Jim Swords who takes the director of business development/strategic media post.

Salak handled Texaco’s merger with Chevron and promoted the Grace Commission report that was sponsored by W.R. Grace & Co.

Internet Edition, November 7, 2007, Page 8




The John Philbin/FEMA fiasco (page one) is a major scandal for the U.S. government and PR but also for the PR Society, which says it sets worldwide PR ethical standards ("highest standards of accuracy and truth"). Rhoda Weiss's public statement about the debacle fails to mention Philbin, who is not only a member of the Society but an accredited member.

This in itself is an ethical violation. Her statement, by omission, does not meet the "highest standards etc."

Instead of lecturing FEMA and "all government agencies" to follow PRS's Code of Ethics, Weiss should be apologizing that one of its star members, who is APR and has a Ph.D. in PR, has been caught red-handed in an egregious ethical violation.

She should also note that PRS has no enforcement mechanism for ethical violators and that she should have put her statement about FEMA (which fails to mention Philbin by name) in the "Advocacy" part of the PRS website instead of burying it as one of numerous stories in PR Tactics online. She had previously addressed such controversies as the firing of Don Imus in that section.

Weiss, with the acquiescence of the board, has also violated PRS's code by leading the most secretive and press-averse administration in the Society's history, refusing member and press requests for Assembly transcripts and creating secret e-mail groups for Assembly delegates only, to name a few of the abuses.

PRS paid tens of thousands to Tim Russert to hear him say that reporters ask "tough" questions and expect "hard" answers. But its leaders ignore this advice.

Our hometown newspaper, the Greenwich Time, just got bought out by Hearst and we hope it's for the better. GT was a weak paper, under the thumb of local business interests. Its circulation and that of sister paper the Advocate of Stamford was only 39,000. The two were the smallest properties of the Tribune Co., which had been trying to unload them for many months.

GT ducked whenever we suggested a controversial story. One was the isolation of Denny Griswold, "queen of PR," from her friends for the last five years of her life. She was at a local nursing home. None of her friends could reach her by any means until she died in 2001 at 92. The tragic story won a column in the New York Times and a full page in the New York Post (both with pictures) but we couldn't interest GT editors. We figured they were afraid of offending the local business community. Nor would any other paper in Fairfield County cover the story.

We spoke May 17, 2006 to the local PRS chapter, noting that Greenwich citizen John Wren, CEO of Omnicom, has been paid tens of millions by OMC since 1999 although the stock is still below its 1999 high of $53.50. We thought it was a natural for the GT but its editors didn't. The Greenwich Post, an independent weekly, wrote 2,000 words on our remarks.

Durham Monsma, publisher of the Time and Advocate (who was immediately fired), said in a statement that Hearst and partner MediaNews of Denver (which owns the Connecticut Post), had the "strongest commitment to the communities we serve." We hope so. Journalism professor Rachele Kanigel of San Francisco State University and former Chicago Tribune reporters, said in her blog that the papers of the Tribune Co., former owner, "don't really serve any of their communities adequately."

Job losses are expected. Employees have to re-apply for their jobs although "most" will be retained, the new owner said. Printing will be shifted by yearend to the Post in Bridgeport.

We spent four years at the Post (initial job) and then six years at Hearst's former New York Journal-American. The "J-A" was a hard-hitting paper and we hope the GT and Advocate become that. Hearst, by the way, has a very harsh attitude towards the press. When the New York Times last year did a feature on Hearst's new building (purchased for $555 million in cash!), CEO Victor Ganzi refused to be interviewed, saying "It doesn't make the Hearst Corp. another dollar."

Debra Shriver, VP-PR, is known for her tight press policy. Cathleen Black, of Hearst Magazines, told the 2004 Matrix banquet: "We all live by Deb's rules, the first one being, don't talk to the press. If you do, you go to Deb's jail. I've been there and it's not pretty."

There is a crisis in newspapers not only in terms of circulation and ads lost but in terms of loss of credibility. The Tribune Co. is to be purchased in Q4 via $8 billion in loans by real estate mogul Sam Zell (assuming the loans are approved). The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News were purchased last year by local business interests and longtime PR pro Brian Tierney installed as publisher. A member of PRS since at least 1987, Tierney started off with a credibility deficit because, as the Columbia Journalism Review pointed out, "A man who had helped to spin, not to mention squelch, stories was now the most powerful force in Philadelphia journalism." A written promise by the new owners not to interfere was soon torn up, Tierney pointing out that publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger of the NYT is involved in both the business and editorial sides (breaking an NYT tradition).

We are sending materials on PRS to both Tierney and Pulitzer Prize-winning Inquirer editor Bill Marimow in hopes the paper will do an in-depth, 60th anniversary story on the Society. Fifty 50 veteran members are demanding "openness, total transparency." So far Marimow has said he would look at our stuff. We fear a "squelch" because the paper did not supply one word of coverage of the recent annual PRS conference in Philadelphia even though Tierney was a speaker. An Inquirer columnist noted in a three-line item that 3,000 "flacks" were to meet at "the Convention Center" (the meeting was at the Marriott). The Inquirer remains a challenge to its owners. National ads plummeted last year, resulting in layoffs. It is selling its building (half empty, says Tierney). He upped the marketing budget from $300K to $14M. Marketing will help but credibility will suffer if stories are skipped.

--Jack O'Dwyer


Copyright © 1998-2020 J.R. O'Dwyer Company, Inc.
271 Madison Ave., #600, New York, NY 10016; Tel: 212/679-2471