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

Return to NL Archives Index

Jack O'Dwyer's NL logo
Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 1


Georgia’s DeKalb County, one of four urban areas in the U.S. that received stimulus funds for anti-tobacco campaigns, has put out an RFP for an agency to guide a multi-million-dollar mass media effort to reduce tobacco use among adults and youth in the Atlanta area.

The campaign calls for tactics like PR, social media, PSA ad placements, brochures and other communications tactics in collaboration with efforts by the DeKalb County Board of Health’s marketing division.

The board received $3.2M for the campaign from the stimulus law.

The Urban Area Tobacco Projects grant is funded by the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ $650M chronic disease prevention outlays.

Proposals are due Nov. 30. RFP is at


Anne Womack-Kolton, the Brunswick Group hand who moved in-house at client BP during the Gulf Oil crisis, has landed at the American Chemistry Council.

Womack-Kolton, a former press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney and Dept. of Energy PA director, has been tapped as VP of communications for the D.C.-based trade group for the chemicals industry.

Womack-Kolton reports to ACC president and CEO Cal Dooley and to the trade group’s board.

The ACC has been looking to bulk up its communications unit and is advertising four open PR posts.

After her Bush administration stints, she was a VP at APCO, where she landed after exiting BP, according to the ACC. She joined the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 from the Texas Attorney General's Office.


Tony Hynes, a 20-year veteran of the hi-tech scene, joins Interpublic's Weber Shandwick Nov. 22 as executive VP in Northern California and part of its technology leadership.

He was West Coast GM at Bite Communications, where he handled HP, Sun Microsystems and helped launch the Next Fifteen unit’s cleantech practice.

Earlier, Hynes was director of global PR/corporate communications at Hitachi Data Systems and staffer at IBM and SAP.

Hynes reports to Robert Dowling, head of WS' North American technology practice, who calls Hynes “one of the most recognized communications professionals in the technology industry.”


APCO Worldwide has acquired JiWin PR, which is part of Dubai Holding’s Tecom Investments.

Tecom invests and manages “knowledge industry clusters” such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai International Academic City, and Dubai Outsource Zone.

APCO CEO Margery Kraus, CEO of APCO, is eager to tap JiWin’s “extensive knowledge and contacts in the Middle East.” She told O'Dwyer’s the transaction does not include Dubai Holding, which is government-owned, taking a stake in her firm.

Kraus refers to Dubai as the “intersection of global trade and commerce connecting Asia, Africa, Europe and the wider world.”

JiWin counts 35 PR pros working in corporate communications, community relations, IR, crisis and issues management. Clients include Dubai Holding, Noor Islamic Bank, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, NASDAQ Dubai and Young Arab Leaders.


Amerigroup Corp., a Fortune 500 managed healthcare provider, has issued an RFP for PR pitches as it plans to award a two-year contract to guide its brand.

The Virginia Beach-based company said it wants a firm that “understands healthcare, healthcare reform, the Medicaid and Medicare business” and can build national campaigns and media ties.

Amerigroup, which focuses on people eligible for Medicaid, SCHIP and other healthcare programs for the “disadvantaged,” seniors and disabled, posted third quarter profit of $84.35M on revenue of nearly $1.5B. It has about 1.9M members and 4,000 employees.

The RFP covers traditional PR like media outreach and training, as well as social media.

Proposals are due Dec. 15. Firms pursuing the pact will be narrowed to three finalists in mid-January. Download the RFP at


Erica Swerdlow, executive VP at Porter Novelli, has moved to Burson-Marsteller as midwest market leader and managing director in its brand marketing group. Based in Chicago, Swerdlow reports to Pat Ford, B-M’s U.S. president.

At PN, she worked on Monster Worldwide, Penske Truck, Harman and McDonald’s. She led the crisis team for Veolia Transportation during the Metrolink train crash in 2008.

Swerdlow joined PN in 2000 after it acquired EBS Public Relations, where she was president.


Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 2


Edelman is mounting a PR defense for Phusion Projects and its controversial caffeinated liquor drink Four Loko, which is sparking warnings and even bans across the U.S., including in the company’s home state of Washington.

The PR response has been both critical of decisions to ban its products while also stressing responsible drinking and alcohol education, especially on college campuses.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Nov. 10 enacted an emergency ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages after nine students at Central Washington University fell ill in October during a party. The State of Michigan last week pushed through a similar ban and other states are considering measures.

Edelman, in a statement, criticized the Washington Liquor Board’s move as “based on misguided information” and blasted that body for not soliciting input from the company and distributors.

Those measures to ban the product followed a move by Ramapo College in New Jersey last month, banning such drinks and pushing for a state-wide measure after 23 students were hospitalized in September after drinking Four Loko, which is 12 percent alcohol and has been marketed as “liquid cocaine in a can.”

Phusion Projects, based in Seattle, on Nov. 10 published an open letter to state and federal regulators noting the company has “borne the brunt” of widespread media scrutiny on alcoholic energy drinks and stressed responsible drinking while offering to a have a “discussion” to create “uniform, industry-wide standards” for such beverages.

The Food and Drug Administration is probing such products and notified 30 manufacturers last year that they had to show their products are not harmful.
Several large companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors stopped adding caffeine to alcoholic products in recent years under pressure from regulators.


Nada Arnot, who headed audience development for NBC Universal's iVillage, has been named chief digital officer in RF|Binder Partners' emerging digital media group.

Arnot oversees a group of 25 at the Ruder Finn unit, handling assignments like social media, mobile communications, location-based services, gaming and SEO.

She was director of audience outreach for iVillage, the media portal geared toward women, and earlier, a senior marketing strategist for parent NBC Universal.

In between those stints, Arnot founded Urban Lion Corp., which built up and sold two websites -, a surfing site, and TheFunkyStork, which targeted expectant and new fathers.


Sard Verbinnen & Co. is promoting a federal suit filed by 81-year-old Edie Windsor that challenges the constitutionality of the “Defense of Marriage Act” that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman.

Windsor claims DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the Constitution because it recognizes opposite but not same sex marriage.

She wants the U.S. to reimburse her $350K in estate taxes that she paid following the 2009 death of her wife, Thea Spyer. The couple married in Canada in 2007 after living together for more than 40 years.

Windsor, who was a senior computer systems programmer, and Spyer, a clinical psychologist, shared an apartment in Greenwich Village. Spyer died from complications from a heart condition after a 30-year battle with multiple sclerosis. They were engaged in 1967, a relationship that is subject of a documentary “Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.”

Windsor’s suit was filed Nov. 9 in Manhattan with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union and law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Roberta Kaplan, Paul Weiss attorney handling the case, notes that if Thea was “Theo” then Edie would have inherited the cash tax-free. “Edie and Thea were denied equal treatment, and it is obviously unjust that there should be a tax simply for being gay,” said Kaplan.

Brandy Bergman and Renee Soto of SV&C are handling media. The New York Daily News called Windsor a “trailblazing gay rights activist.”


Fas Mart, the 215-convenience store chain based in Richmond, has apologized to a Muslim woman who was denied service at a Frederickburg's store because she was would not remove her head scarf.

The check-out clerk told Tralesha Faison, 33, to take off the hijab because security cameras couldn't see her face. Faison told the clerk she would not comply because of religious reasons.

Faison then contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which brought the matter to the attention of Fas Mart management.

Fas Mart on Nov. 11 posted a statement on its website as a formal apology to Faison. The company says it has a longstanding policy of non-discrimination against all groups.

The company has now dropped the policy of asking customers to remove “hoodies” and other headgear, a rule that was in place to deter shoplifting.

The clerk, who is suspended pending further investigation, had followed that hoodie rule in asking Faison to take off the hijab.

Fas Mart plans to ask to Council to advise its 1,700 workers “about sensitivity issues in dealing with the Islamic community.”

The company believes the denial of service was not because of the customer’s religious beliefs. Fas Mart says it “values each of its customers and has zero tolerance for any type of discrimination or disparity in the treatment of customers.”


Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 3


Newsweek and The Daily Beast have merged to form Newsweek Daily Beast Co., a 50/50 venture partnership owned by audio magnate Sidney Harman, 92, and Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActive Corp.

Harman, who acquired Newsweek from Washington Post Co. during the summer, calls the new hook-up the “ideal combination of established journalism authority and bright, bristling website savvy.”

Tina Brown, founding partner and editor-in-chief of TDB, will now edit both entities. Stephen Colvin, president of TDB, is CEO of the new company.

Brown, who held top edit jobs at Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, has built TDB into a site that reaches 5M unique visitors per month. The site is on track to lose about $10M this year

Colvin was CEO of Dennis Publishing U.S, which launched Maxim and The Week under his leadership. He also was executive VP at CBS Interactive.


Bob Pittman, former CEO of MTV Networks and CEO of America Online, has been named chairman/media and entertainment platforms at radio giant Clear Channel Communications. He is to spearhead the digital strategy of the San Antonio-based company.

Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays said in a statement: “With his background in music, radio and entertainment and track record of success in both traditional and digital media Bob Pittman will be a terrific ally and contributor to Clear Channel in this new role.”

Pittman will partner with John Hogan, who heads Clear Channel’s radio operations, to “amplify outreach to major advertising and marketing partners.”

Pittman is taking an equity stake in the company that is owned by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. He retains his current position as founding member of the Pilot Group, a private equity fund.

The Clear Channel radio stations reach 97M listeners per week. It attracts 12M unique monthly visitors to the stations' websites.

Pittman began his media career at radio stations in Pittsburgh, Chicago and New York. He led the programming team that created MTV. He has also served as CEO of Six Flags Theme Parks, Century 21 and Time Warner Enterprises.


Lou Dobbs, the former CNN anchor who left the network a year ago following complaints about his anti-immigrant views and search for President Obama’s birth certificate, is joining Fox Business Network.

Kevin Magee, executive VP at FBN, said teaming Dobbs with managing editor Neil Cavuto will “make FBN a tough network to beat.” The addition of Dobbs “strengthens the best lineup in business news” said Magee in a statement.

Dobbs, 65, says he's privileged to “join the great team that Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Neil Cavuto have created.”

FBN reaches 57M households.

Dobbs inked a multi-year deal with FBN. He will have his own daily program beginning in the first quarter of 2011 and make various appearances on other program to provide analysis and commentary.

At CNN, Dobbs was anchor, managing editor and executive VP. He hosted “Moneyline,” which debuted in 1980, and then renamed “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

Dobbs will continue his national syndicated radio programs.


Former New York City Chancellor Joel Klein is to spearhead Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.’s foray into the educational arena.

As executive VP in the Office of the Chairman, Klein will serve as senior advisor to Murdoch working on “developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace.”

Klein’s “record of achievement leading one of the country’s toughest school systems has given him a unique perspective that will be particularly important as we look into a sector that has long been in need of innovation,” said Murdoch in a statement.

The NYC system has 1,700 schools, 1.1M students, 136K employees and a $22B operating budget.

Washington Post Co. is the leading media player in the educational market as its Kaplan unit ranks as its No. 1 revenue and profit generator.

Kaplan, like other for-profit educational systems, currently faces tough federal scrutiny for allegedly overselling employment opportunities and leaving students burdened with heavy debt.


New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has named Hearst Magazines chairman Cathie Black to the school chancellor post.

Succeeding Joel Klein who resigned after an eight-year run, Black becomes the first woman head of the 1.1M student system. Bloomberg called the Hearst executive a “great New Yorker” and a person who is “brilliant, innovative and driven.”

Klein assumed control of the school system after the New York State Legislature turned control of the schools to City Hall. He is the longest serving chancellor.

Bloomberg credits Klein, who is taking a post at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., with transforming “New York City’s long-dysfunctional public school system into one that the Obama administration has hailed as a national model.”

Black, like Klein has no education experience.

At Hearst, Black was responsible for 2,000 staffers working at titles such as Cosmopolitan, Town & Country, Esquire, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics, Harper’s Bazaar and Redbook.

Earlier, she was president and publisher of USA Today and executive VP at its parent company, Gannett.

Black served as president & CEO of the Newspaper Assn. of America and was the first woman to head a major weekly magazine when she became publisher of New York in 1979. She began her career in ad sales at Holiday before moving to then start-up Ms. Magazine.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 4


A staffer from Rubenstein Communications “coached” Kanye West through his apology to President George W. Bush and subsequent sparring with the “Today” show and host Matt Lauer last week, according to a report in the New York Times.

But the media trainer -- Rubenstein executive VP Susie Arons -- quit after West’s interview was nixed and then rescheduled by his “handlers,” according to the New York Post.

According to the Times, West wanted to use his interview to answer Mr. Bush as “the gravity of responding to the former president was not lost on him.” He hired Rubenstein to prep for the show but West became visibly irritated during his apology-appearance on “Today” when the show’s producers ran archived (and controversial) footage of him at last year’s MTV Music Awards. He subsequently pulled the plug on a planned Nov. 26 appearance on the NBC show to promote a new album.

The Times said West’s appearance was initially canceled after the recording artist's “handlers” didn’t think Bush’s comments warranted a response. The paper said “for unknown reasons” West’s team re-booked the interview but his rep at Rubenstein was initially unaware of that and "had to hurry to NBC’s studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to meet him and his team there.”

Reported the Post: “According to a show insider, ‘West shut himself in a dressing room with Susie, and could be heard rehearsing possible questions and answers. But the interview began, and it was as though he had crammed for a test and then his mind went blank.”

The Post said Arons resigned over the weekend after the “disastrous” interview aired Thursday.


A survey of thousands of online businesses, mostly in the U.S. and Europe, found that more than 30% find Facebook ineffective for driving traffic to a firm’s website and even fewer see Twitter attracting clicks.

The University of Bradford (U.K.) produced the study with software developer Intellimon, looking at several marketing tactics like press releases, social media and advertising.

“It’s a real eye-opener, even for experienced online marketers,” said Intellimon CEO Paul Smithson.

The study found the typical age of users doing business online was over 50 (62%) and the most important traffic generation tool for businesses to be search engines, although only about 63% said they perform optimization, or SEO, monthly or less frequently.

About half of the survey respondents were in the U.S., with large blocs in the U.K. (16%) and Australia (9%) as well.

Email marketing was cited by nearly 45% of respondents as effective for driving traffic. A similar percentage cited webinars and tele-seminars as attracting interest.

While more than 56% of responding companies said they use social networking to attract consumers, nearly 23% said such tools are ineffective for driving traffic and another 9% said platforms like Facebook are “very ineffective.”

Slightly less – 30% – find social networking to be effective or very effective.
More than 64% of online businesses use Twitter and 54% see its importance increasing in the next year.

Press Releases Not Popular

Notably, only 26% said they have used press releases to generate web traffic for their businesses. Many (45%) of the businesses that have utilized the popular PR tool have been competing for up to two years and say five releases annually is the average.

More than 73% said they spend less than $100 monthly on releases, although 38% said they find releases to be effective for driving traffic. Asked about the future of press releases, 45% said they see no change in importance over the next year, while 43% think they will be more important or a lot more important down the road.

The survey, which can be downloaded at, also looked at other tactics like affiliations, article marketing and display ads.


The Economist (Nov. 6) anointed WPP CEO Martin Sorrell “King of the Mad Men” for positioning the 25-year ad/PR conglomerate on top of the heap on Madison Avenue.

The British business magazine notes that Sir Martin is “sometimes put down by critics as a finance-obsessed ‘bean counter,’ but he delegates a lot and has placed astute bets such as deciding that the advertising industry would become increasingly driven by technology.”

A third of WPP’s $14B revenues comes from advertising.

Sorrell’s acquisition game plan is built on buying good businesses, taking time to know the firms, locking in management for five years and some “luck,” he says.

WPP’s bullish performance this year is due to robust demand in the U.S. market, rebounding from severe cutbacks in 2009.

Television ad spending is leading the way because marketers traditionally look to the media to build brands while “online is more about price and offering a deal,” according to Sorrell.

Sorrell says much has changed since “Mad Men,” the TV show about ad agency life during the 1960s. But he watches the program and says its portrayal of “egos, turf wars and political incorrectness” still rings true today.

PEOPLE __________________________

Shawn Moynihan, recently online and managing editor at Editor & Publisher, to Metro New York as city editor. He takes over for Matt Sweeney, who left the publication.

Christie Griffin, senior web editor at, has moved to Fitness magazine as digital director to oversee editorial efforts on its website and handle projects across its mobile, apps, and tablet editions.

Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 5


Tonic Life Communications, a health-focused firm acquired by the London-based PR conglomerate Huntsworth in 2009, has opened an office in Singapore, the firm’s second Asian operation.

It opened its first Asia office, in Hong Kong, in July and works for clients like Pfizer, Heinz and Reckitt Benckiser.

Neil Matheson, CEO of Huntsworth Health, said the company is expanding by establishing offices where its international clients need support. He said Huntsworth is using Tonic Life as the “springboard” for what is planned to be a “multi-channel service” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Rae Chew, who’s worked for Edelman, Ruder Finn and GolinHarris, was named managing director for Tonic Life’s Singapore operation.

Asian outposts are becoming increasingly important to global revenues for agencies.

B-M, part of WPP, re-entered the Malaysian PR market this month after a 12-year hiatus with an outpost in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.


Taylor Rafferty is handling financial communications out of New York and Hong Kong for the initial public offering of Noah Holdings Limited, a Shanghai-based financial management company that caters to wealthy Chinese.

Noah’s 8.4M American depository shares were sold at $12 each for proceeds of $91.2M and debuted Nov. 10, the latest success story for the U.S. IPO of a China company as its stock price jumped as high as 43 percent. Shares closed the day up 33% at $15.99.

Delia Cannan, a director for Taylor Rafferty in New York, and Savoy Lee, a Hong Kong director for the firm, are supporting the company’s investor and financial communications efforts.

BRIEFS: The United Nations has given its top PR award to a census media relations campaign developed by Nairobi-based Apex Communications Limited for the Kenyan government in the wake of disputed elections and ethnic tensions. Apex, an affiliate of Porter Novelli, created the “Nipo Natambulika,” or “Count Me In,” effort for the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, an effort recognized with the 2010 U.N. Grand Award for Achievement in Public Relations as it came two years after disputed elections displaced 600,000 people in the African country. ...Euro RSCG London and Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster are merging to become one company known as Euro RSCG London PR. Clients include Peugeot, Reckitt Benckiser and Australian Wool Innovation. Russ Lidstone, CEO of Euro RSCG London, leads the merged agency with Graham Lancaster continuing as chairman of the Euro RSCG London PR and Holly Ward as Managing Director of Euro RSCG London PR.


New York Area

Cornerstone PR, New York/sweetgreen, D.C. “healthy food” eatery, as AOR for PR, including the sweetlife music and arts festival in the capital.

The Morris + King Company, New York/Visiting Nurse Service of New York, not-for-profit home healthcare organization, to coordinate a series of family caregiver workshops hosted by public officials throughout the New York metro area. The firm also said it is working with physicians at the University of California, San Francisco, to launch a new initiative called “Hair to Stay,” featuring two scalp cooling therapies now being tested that could help cancer patients avoid chemotherapy-related hair loss.

Peppercom, New York/T.G.I. Friday’s, eatery chain owned by Carlson Inc., as AOR, including digital and social media, PR and integrated marketing. The work includes support of TGIF’s “World Bartender Championship,” now in its 20th year. Work started Oct. 1.

Rubenstein PR, New York/Azure, 34-story luxury residential building on Manhattan's Upper East Side, for PR.

HUFF Events & PR, New York/Alexandra Amor, recording artist, Dream Hampton, journalist, and Aliyyah Baylor, celebrity pastry chef and co-owner of Make My Cake in Harlem.


Tierney, Philadelphia/Altius Education, online education, as AOR for PR, including media relations and a thought leadership program; Devereux, non-profit behavioral health organization, for PR for a 2010 brand rollout, raising the organization’s general awareness, and to develop a social media outreach strategy for its 100-year anniversary in 2012, and Brandywine Realty Trust, publicly traded real estate company, for PR.

Trevelino/Keller Communications Group, Atlanta/Neighborhood Nurse, for launch support of the “healthcare concierge concept.” T/K will focus on traditional media relations and social media support.


Formula, San Diego/bioserie, creator of iPod and iPhone covers made entirely from annually-renewable plant material, has as AOR for PR, including media relations targeting eco-conscious consumers, iPhone users, as well as national marketing.

PCGCampbell, Los Angeles/LeMay – America’s Car Museum, slated to be North America’s largest auto museum when it opens in Tacoma, Wash., in the fall 2011, has chosen for marketing communications strategy, including PR and media relations, sponsorship and relationship marketing. Harold and Nancy LeMay amassed the largest privately owned collection of automobiles, motorcycles and trucks in the world and have funded the $60 million, 165,000 sq.-ft. interactive auto museum and educational center. Shane Smith, managing partner at PCGCampbell, which has a Detroit office, said the firm will promote “America’s love affair with the automobile” and work to reach visitors to the Seattle-Tacoma, Rainier corridor.

— Greg Hazley

Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 6


The Publicity Club of Chicago has named Sue Markgraf, president and founder of GreenMark PR, as the group's president for 2010-11. She leads an executive committee that includes first VP David Smolensky, COO of Resolute Consulting; secretary Kelly Drinkwine, director of PR for AON Corp.; treasurer Michelle Flowers Welch, president and CEO of Flowers Comms. Group, and ex-officio member Andrew Goldstein, partner of Freeborn & Peters.

"This exciting team is the right team for honoring the PCC in its 70th year and for directing it into its 71st," said Markgraf, who takes over for immediate past president Dave Bosch, comms. director for Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.


Michael Farr, who was a GM and senior video producer at the former On The Scene Productions, has moved to News Broadcast Network as an executive producer.

He is charged with handling assignments like event production, satellite/Internet media tours, webcasts, and other new media projects.

NBN president Michael Hill said the hire is a sign the video broadcast sector is growing again. "After a difficult two years for our industry, Michael's move to NBN reflects the growth of the video and new media PR business through 2010 and affirms NBN's commitment to be the leader of that growth," Hill said in a statement.

Farr joined OTSP in 1991 and was named GM of its New York office. OTSP was shut down in 2009 but Farr continued to work in the space for OTSP and other clients.


Darren Drevik, former VP of comms. and marketing at Atreus Homes and Communities, has moved to monitoring services company VMS as marketing director in New York.

Drevik had been running his own consultancy, D&A Creative, for the last year. He was previously director of marketing for Venture Homes and was an editor for VNU Business Media after seven years at Thomson Reuters as an editor.

At VMS, he oversees marketing and communications operations previously handled by Mike Giovia, who left the company last month following a management shake-up.

BRIEFS:, Capitola, Calif., has added enhancements to its My Company News monitoring service, which tracks online news content, blogs and Twitter feeds. HRM said the improved platform filters out duplicate content and advertising or spam sites and includes a year’s worth of archives. The company is owned by Fisher Vista. …

Critical Mention said it has added 50 of the top US radio stations to its indexed broadcast intelligence Critical TV 4.0 platform, which was revamped this month. Under the upgrade, all of CM’s clients can track content in those top markets.



Beth H. Hallisy, longtime agency partner and head of the PR group at Marcus Thomas, Cleveland, plans to retire July 1, 2011.

The firm said it has embarked on a national search for a senior VP-director to fill its top PR slot. Hallisy joined predecessor company Ira Thomas Associates in Youngstown in 1991 and, in 1993, became one of four partners as Ira Thomas retired.

MT claims $92M in revenue across its marketing communications businesses.


Christia Gordon was named director of publicity on the West coast for J Public Relations, New York, based in the firm’s San Diego office. Suzanne Brose, PR manager at Cal-a-Vie, has joined JPR as senior publicist in San Diego and Lindsay Schropp signed on as a junior publicist. Allison Frazier, an intern, was hired as a junior publicist. In New York, Molly Leibowitz and Calee Brean have joined as J/Ps.

Courtney Hastings, communications director for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, to Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, Washington, D.C., as an account manager.

Nicole Murphy, media coordinator for the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., to Lyons Public Relations, Kensington, Md., as an A/E focused on radio media tours and PSAs.

Julie Koenig Loignon to VP of corporate communications for Churchill Downs Inc., Louisville, Ky., moving back into a role she held two years ago. Current VP Liz Harris was named VP and executive director of the Churchill Downs Foundation. Loignon joined CDI in 1999 as a comms. coordinator.

Leslie Norwalk, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to APCO Worldwide’s international advisory council. She practiced law at Washington’s Epstein, Becker & Green, and served in the first Bush administration in the White House Office of Personnel and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Nicole Okoneski, senior member of GolinHarris' consumer marketing to Wonacott Communications, Los Angeles, as an account director, consumer practice. She was previously an account coordinator at Alcalay Communications.


Michael Cummings to VP, Kellen Company, New York. He joined the firm in 2006.

Deanna Lorincz to senior director, communications, the Steel Market Development Institute, Washington, D.C., the business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute. Lorincz joined the AISI in 2001.

— Greg Hazley


Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 7


A cycle of spin is at the core of the “trust destruction” that has permeated American life, according to Bill Margaritis, who challenged communicators at last night’s Institute for PR awards dinner in New York to lead the “transition back toward truth, trust and transparency.”

The FedEx senior VP of global communications and IR, and Arthur Page Society chairman, told the sold-out crowd of 260 that he believes the popularity of “fake news” stars Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is because they puncture the “posturing and hype” that dominate the media scene.

The “cacophony of complaint” in the media is “amplified by the force of the Internet and the shortened attention spans of almost everyone,” he said.

The 2010 IPR distinguished lecturer frets about the trust deficit.

He cited a FedEx survey that found 40 percent of respondents having “little or no trust” in Corporate America. That compares to 29 percent of those polled by Frank Luntz reporting a “good or great deal of trust.”

Fifty-one percent of respondents say trust is gained via “ethical business practices” followed by 27 percent citing a “sound moral compass.”

Margaritis said it’s the job of PR people to use their skills, knowledge and experience to drive the ethics and morality imperatives through the organization starting at the top management level: “This means having complete C-level cognizance at all times of how their actions will influence their reputation and how their culture influences their actions and then acting accordingly, with integrity.”

The simple mission of communicators: “Say what we mean and mean what we say. Say what we will do and do as we say.”

Build Own Media Company

Margaritis stressed the importance of treating employees as customers, using research to determine “wants, needs, aspirations and opinions about the company.” It’s also important to treat employees as “knowledgeable consumers of news about the company, and incorporating them fully as a key part of our external audience, even going as far as conducting most of our employee communications through external channels rather than a gated Intranet,” he said.

Corporate communicators, Margaritis believes, should build their own “modern media companies” because they have opportunity to be credible and active contributors in the fractionated media marketplace.

Margaritis told how a key component of FedEx’s reputational intelligence initiative is focused on an “individualized, personalized, humanized appeal, specifically centered on employee actions that make a difference for customers and communities.”


Wendell Potter, the former Cigna corporate communications executive turned critic, last week kicked off a national book tour to support “Deadly Spin,” his takedown of the healthcare sector and its PR on the Bloomsbury Press imprint.

Potter was senior VP/comms. at Cigna until stepping down after 15 years in the sector and has recently affiliated with the Center for Media and Democracy, a PR watchdog. He first caused a stir last year when he testified before a Senate panel on healthcare reform claiming that healthcare insurers are mostly focused on profits over the welfare (and in some cases to the detriment) of patients.

Potter's book opens with this mea culpa: “About 45,000 people die in America every year because they have no health insurance and I have been responsible for some of that shameful statistic.”

He started a 21-city national book tour in D.C. on Nov. 9 and 10 to support the release of the book, which carries the full title “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans.”

Potter, who thinks the healthcare reform law passed this year does not go far enough in reining in the industry, told Fox Business Network Nov. 4 that insurers will not likely support Republican efforts to repeal the measure because it actually helps them.

“There’s a lot that helps them,” he said. “It also props up the employer-based system, which has been unraveling over the past several years. This will also give them many millions of new enrollees and also, over the course of 10 years, many billions of dollars in new revenue.”

Potter said the law is “a start.”

In reviewing the book, Time magazine’s Kate Pickert wrote: “Great P.R. flacks are as talented with misdirection as they are with the truth." Pickert called the book a "gripping indictment of his old bosses at insurance giant Cigna and of corporate PR pros everywhere…”

Potter spoke at the 2009 PRSA conference in San Diego to the disdain of some healthcare PR pros in the audience who view him as more of a traitor than a “hero.”


The U.S. Emirates Alliance paid Harbour Group $956K in PR fees for the six-month period ended Sept. 30 for activities from contacting U.S. officials about stability/humanitarian development in Pakistan and Afghanistan to promoting the opening of a soccer pitch atop an elementary public school in New York City.

On the Af/Pak front, Harbour arranged meetings with Dan Feldman, State Department’s special representative to those countries, along with his deputies Vikram Singh and Jarrett Blanc.

Harbour briefed State’s United Arab Emirates desk officer Bridget McGovern about the visit of the Manchester City Football Club to the U.S. and then worked with the principal and a teacher at the Lexington Academy in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem.


Internet Edition, November 17, 2010, Page 8




Education-worshipping Americans are flocking to online and in-person schools in hopes of landing a job or getting a better one but they may just be chasing rainbows, said a New York Times exposé Nov. 10.

Since PR circles are currently flooded with post graduate programs running to $35K-$40K and endless seminars, webinars, “boot camps” and other programs that may cost $1,000 or more, we recommend this article to all those seeking to improve their lot via “education.”

NYT mostly targeted a chief competitor-the Washington Post Company.

Federal and state investigations of the Kaplan University part of WP and other for-profit schools have helped cut 25% from WP’s stock price since the spring (falling from $541 on April 15 to $388 on Nov. 12). Kaplan’s revenues rose 9% in Q3 to $743M.

Kaplan grads who ran up huge debts studying “criminal justice” found they mostly got jobs as plant guards at $8-$9 an hour that they could have obtained anyway, says one of the complaints.

Four “whistle-blower” suits filed under the federal False Claims Act charge Kaplan illegally paid recruiters of students, kept students on its books after they dropped out, inflated students' grades, and provided false placement data to continue receiving aid.

Kaplan officials said they rectified any abuses as soon as they found out about them and the school has a new program that allows students to "try out" courses for 4-5 weeks before enrolling.

Targets of the schools were said to be the naïve and uneducated – those who were already on public assistance, or were fired or laid off, or had just gotten out of jail.

Government loans to students totaled $26.5B last year and much of this will not be repaid, said NYT.

Kaplan Higher Education gets 91.5% of its income from government programs but only 28% of loan recipients were paying them in 2009, said the Dept. of Education.

The Government Accountability Office used undercover videos this summer to document charges that some schools use high-pressure in recruiting students and promise unrealistic salaries.

Investigate Before Enrolling

I don't think all PR education is bad. The in-person courses give jobseekers a chance to network and build up inside knowledge about a PR specialty or PR in general.

But before shelling out money, prospective students should do some research.
Some lessons can be learned from my experience.

After four years as a police, labor and civic affairs reporter at the Bridgeport, Conn., Telegram, I sought a job at a New York newspaper as a financial writer.

I had become interested in the stock market and marveled at the amount of information and statistics available.

But before enrolling in a school, I asked New York financial editors if this was the right way to go.

New York Journal-American financial editor Leslie Gould said it was a terrible idea and that financial reporting could only be learned by doing it. Since I was able show him a bundle of bylined clips, he gave me a job.

Gould was known as the “Cop of Wall Street” who outed many an abusive practice including the fake OTC prices that gave a huge spread between bid and asked prices. He printed the real prices each day.

One of his investigations led to the resignation of most of the board of the American Stock Exchange.

Gould sent us to annual meetings to look for dissidents such as major stockholders or former executives who had inside knowledge of the company and its competitors and were eager to work with the press. Armed with this info and SEC documents, Gould was able to do numerous exposés.

Lessons for PR Jobseekers

After two years, Gould picked me to do the daily ad column, a job that lasted four years until the demise of the paper in 1966.

Two big ad agencies, Young & Rubicam and Doyle Dane Bernbach, then offered me jobs as their PR directors at double my J-A salary.

Genuine PR friends urged us to do no such thing, saying PR directors had low status and the jobs were highly “political” (meaning a new CEO would bring in his or her own person).

DDB principal Mack Dane took me to lunch at the Princeton Club to make the offer but I couldn’t forget that this was the same Mack Dane who had a J-A executive pull my scoop about a big new account of the firm. DDB was about to go public and Dane did not want any news coming out. Dane never allowed the afternoon papers to have a DDB scoop. If such a reporter called him up to check facts, he would notify the NYT and Herald-Tribune so they wouldn't be scooped.

At Y&R, I was courted with lunches and tours of the agency capped off by an interview with the CEO who said my job would be to “keep the press out of my hair.”

A PR firm head who was a true friend had his law firm draw up corporate papers for a new company that I launched with Ed Buxton, a former creative director of JWT. It assumed publication of Ad Daily and I worked on it for two years before starting the O’Dwyer NL in 1968.

PR jobseekers and careerists not only need to query potential employers about appropriate training but also need trusted friends who will give them good advice.

They need to do lots of networking and learn to judge whether someone is sandbagging them or not. What are the motives of people giving them advice? They need to have more than one “mentor.”

Complainant Indicted

What caught my eye in the NYT story on Kaplan was that a major complainant, Ben Wilcox, former dean of paralegal studies, is “under indictment on charges of hacking into the company’s computer system and sending out harassing e-mails.”

Wilcox told the NYT, “They’ll tell you all sorts of terrible things about me but the bottom line is that Kaplan is a cold-hearted scam to make money by taking student loans from the government and leaving students with debt that they’ll never be able to repay.”

PR news sources who don’t want to be contacted now claim that any e-mails sent to them are “harassment,” a crime. They also charge that unwanted e-mails are “SPAM.”

“Strategy” of some organizations under investigation is to attack complainants by looking for any laws or rules they may have broken and threatening them with lawsuits, arrest or legal actions of one type or another.

— Jack O'Dwyer


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