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Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 1

This issue: PR firm rankings in travel,
home furnishings, environment/PA,
ad agency-owned firms, and Atlanta on pg. 4 ...


Louisiana’s $5.6M tourism communications account has been split into three parts - creative/media, PR and Internet – to review via RFP through early May.

The Louisiana Office of Tourism said it divided the work to get greater access to the “most creative, innovative and entrepreneurial proposers,” according to the RFP.

Tourism is a $9.3 billion industry in the Pelican State and has been a fragile endeavor since last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf.

A single agency or collaborations can pitch for the account, which will run from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 with two option years. Deveney Communications has worked with the tourism entity to shape its PR response to the Gulf oil spill last year.

Key to the state’s global travel pitch, which currently uses the tagline “Pick your passion,” are top rankings for food, festivals and adventure tourism, as well as its “authentic culture.” The PR portion of the pact includes typical travel/tourism duties like familiarization tours, crisis communications, fulfilling media requests and speech/talking point development, among other tasks. Firms must have experience in multicultural PR.

Social media falls under the Internet marketing division of the account.


The California Office of Traffic Safety has kicked off an open review of its PR, advertising and marketing accounts with an RFP process through late April.

Ogilvy PR Worldwide is the incumbent for the six-figure account.

The account, which relies heavily on earned media, supports the office's public affairs division, which oversees a bevy of campaigns like those promoting seatbelt use, bike safety or discouraging drunk driving with the overall goal of lowering the mileage death rate (1.05 per 100M miles driven in 2008) and injuries in the driving-centric state.

Chris Cochran, assistant director, marketing and public affairs for the OTS, is overseeing the RFP process.

A one-year contract is capped at $1.7M with two year-long renewal options at the same rate.

Proposals are due April 18.


Bell Pottinger, which oversees PR for strike-torn Bahrain, dropped an Edelman media relations campaign on March 18 before the two sides could formalize a written agreement.

The goal was to position Bahrain as a "good investment destination for foreign direct investment" and to "promote the country as western-friendly in its business practices," according to the No. 1 independent firm's Justice Dept. filing.

Edelman did receive $78K for its work before termination by Bell Pottinger. It had anticipated a rest of year invoice of $249K.

Campaign deliverables for the Economic Development of Bahrain were to include two media fam trips, two Edelman written and placed articles in "tier 1" media and six articles slated for the trade press.

Edelman was to conduct eight "road shows" or "specific media tours" and support three special events.

The firm did not plan to participate in any political activities for the Government of Bahrain.


Weber Shandwick is supporting Munich’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which organizers guarantee will offer the “‘best Olympic experience’ for broadcasters and journalists.”

The Interpublic unit has managed Olympic bids by Sochi, (the Russian city that will host the 2014 Games), Beijing (2008) and Turin (2006).

Weber Shandwick notched the Games due to its past Olympian experience, global network and strong presence in Munich, according to a statement from Bernhard Schwank, managing director of the bid.

Katarina Witt, chair of the bid committee, has stressed the media’s “pivotal role” in success of the Games. She promised a world class press center because “without the media, the world would never hear the great and inspiring stories of athletic triumph that unfold at the Games.”

The 2018 winter host will be announced July 6.


Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 2


Grayling CEO Michael Murphy believes protestors who on March 28 picketed the London office of Huntsworth’s global PR operation for its alleged work for the Government of Belarus are off base.

Belarus has been called “Europe’s last dictatorship” and its strong man president Alexander Lukashenko is in the midst of a pro-democracy crackdown.

Murphy told O’Dwyer’s that Grayling neither represents the Government of Lukashenko nor any state-controlled entity. He said Grayling, the only major PR firm with an office in Belarus’ capital city of Minsk, represents foreign companies that want to do business in the nation that borders Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

In addressing protestors’ claim that Grayling indirectly supports the Government since the bulk of its companies are state-controlled, Murphy said “Grayling follows the lead of its clients and remains fully cognizant of guidance from the United Kingdom and EU diplomatic positions on Belarus.”

He noted that the British Government wants to support trade with Belarus as part of its effort to effect positive change in the former Soviet State.

The protest outside Grayling’s headquarters featured the starpower of Kevin Spacey, Jude Law and Tom Stoppard.

Murphy said the only countrywide project that Grayling has conducted in Belarus so far was a public education campaign to raise awareness of hepatitis C, an effort not connected with the Government.


Mich Mathews, the former Microsoft PR chief who rose to worldwide marketing head of the software giant, is leaving the company this summer after a 22-year stint.

Mathews told AdAge Digital it’s time to take a break and that it’s going to “be awesome to actually get off the grid.” As senior VP-central marketing group, Mathews was in charge of branding, advertising, PR, research, events, packaging, relationship marketing and internal communications functions.

Following a three-year stint at General Motors, Mathews began her career at Microsoft in 1989 as a consultant in the U.K. She joined Microsoft in 1993 to lead its corporate PR function. Mathews had various posts, including VP-corporate communications and VP of its central marketing organization before rising to the top spot.

On its website, the company credits Mathews for “pioneering new ground to transform Microsoft into a leading interactive marketing organization through digital means...”

Mathews will work with Microsoft COO Kevin Turner and CEO Steve Ballmer to find her successor.


Noble Energy has tapped Washington’s top Republican lobbying firm to represent the interest of its massive operation off the shores of Israel.

The focus of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock’s is “natural gas finds” for the Houston-based giant that has operated in Israeli waters since 1998.

Mark Isakowitz is former press secretary for Congressman Paul Gillmor and as director of federal governmental relations at the National Federation of Independent Business was credited by the National Journal for derailing President Clinton’s healthcare bill.

He is joined on the Noble business by Kirk Blalock, special assistant to George Bush II and deputy to Haley Barbour when he chaired the National Republican Committee, and Kirsten Chadwick, Bush White House II legislative affairs special assistant.

Bini Zomer, director of corporate affairs at Noble’s Israeli unit, told the March 22 Jerusalem Post that Noble is “the only international company working in Israel in the field of exploration and supply of gas and oil to energy companies.” Its natural gas supplies about 20 percent of Israel’s electrical power needs.

Noble has just kicked off its first marketing campaign with the tag line, “Bringing good energy to Israel.”


Virginia Railway Express, the 19-year-old commuter rail project connecting Virginia’s suburbs to Washington, D.C., is on the hunt for advertising and PR proposals with a goal of “further establishing and maintaining a positive, identifiable image of the commuter rail service operated by VRE,” according to an RFP released March 23. Proposals are due April 25.

The railway carries about 18,500 passengers daily, operating 29 trains from 18 stations. In addition to burnishing its image, VRE wants to increase ridership and promote safety goals, among other targets.

Alexandria-based Williams Whittle Associates is the six-year incumbent winding down the final year of its pact worth $400K through June 2011.

Download the RFP at


Janet Clayton, the former Los Angeles Times exec who has led the charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for the past three years, moved to California power company Edison International in a top corporate communications slot on April 4.

Ownership of the baseball franchise is currently in the air amid a messy divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt.

Edison, the parent to utility Southern California Edison, said Clayton will take a senior VP role heading internal and external comms., corporate and brand positioning, community relations and philanthropy.

Clayton was a section editor and led the Times’ editorial page during 30 years at the paper.


Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 3


Hearst Corp. has named Steve Swartz, COO of the media combine, putting him in line to succeed long-time chief Frank Bennack, 78.

He moves up from president of Hearst Newspapers, a post he assumed two years ago.

Bennack believes Swartz’s experience with newspapers, magazines and digital media will enable him to play a key role in developing Hearst’s future growth strategy as it focuses on “new revenue streams and expanding current brands across multiple platforms.”

Prior to joining Hearst in 2001, the 49-year-old Swartz was founding editor and president/CEO of SmartMoney, the Hearst/Dow Jones joint-venture.

He began his career in 1984 as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, rising to editor on its page one staff.

Mark Aldam, 47, succeeds Swartz as newspaper chief.

He was executive VP of the group that includes 15 dailies and 38 weekly properties.


Bill Moyers, who retired from TV last year, is expected to return to the air backed by a $2M grant from the Carnegie Corp.

The working title of the half-hour Public Broadcasting Service program is "Something Different with Bill Moyers," according to a report in the New York Times. The show will provide a forum for the public affairs issues of the day.

Moyers says he is discussing financing with other potential backers and that no set air date has been determined.

The Carnegie board has not yet okayed the 29-month grant.

Moyers, 77, hosted “Bill Moyers Journal” until last April.

The former aide to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson is a “lightning rod for criticism from conservatives,” noted the Times.

Talk of a potential Moyers comeback comes as Republicans move to eliminate funding for public radio/TV.


Jack Dorsey, who stepped down from the helm of Twitter in 2008, has returned as executive chairman and chief of product development, as the microblogging site takes a sharper aim at Facebook.

Twitter has 23M users in the U.S. in February compared to Facebook’s 150M, according to ComScore.

The company named Dick Costolo CEO in October to take over for co-founder Evan Williams who had replaced Dorsey.

Williams is to remain as a “key adviser” to Costolo.

Twitter received a $200M round of funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in December. It claims valuation of more than $3.5B.


Mark D'Arcy, president of Time Warner’s global media group, is joining Facebook in May to help the social network bolster its appeal to national advertisers.

He told the Wall Street Journal that his job is to shift marketing's orientation from “intrusion to engagement,” making advertising that is “interactive or even desired.” The 39-year-old D'Arcy will be based in New York and report to Mike Hoefflinger, director of global customer marketing.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg believes the new hire “understands that marketing can be more engaging and effective when it is social by design.”

D’Arcy is a seven-year veteran of Time Warner.


Jamie Tarabay, a six-year veteran of National Public Radio, has joined the National Journal Group as managing editor for national security.

She worked for the Associated Press in Australia, southeast Asia and middle east before shifting to NPR.

Tarabay, who is fluent in Arabic and French, completed a two-year project reporting on America’s Muslims.

Ron Fournier, editor-in-chief of NJG, called Tarabay a “smart, incisive journalist whose energy and on-the-ground experience will add an even sharper focus to our strong national security team.”

The company’s flagship National Journal shifted Lori Santos, who was acting managing editor for national security, to the ME breaking news slot.

She is a Reuters alum.


News Corporation has expanded the duties of its senior VP for corporate communications and public affairs, Julie Henderson, to include “corporate strategy.”

Henderson, who joined the media giant in 2006 and leads its West Coast communications, will work with the company’s business unit heads to “expand the marketing influence” and get “great value” out of its brands, which include Fox News, Dow Jones, and 20th Century Fox, to name a few.

“Each of our businesses is a leader in its own right, yet can be so much stronger if we can build on each unit’s complementary strengths,” Chase Carey, president and COO, said in a statement.

Henderson will report to Carey for her strategy work while continuing to work communications under senior VP Teri Everett, the company said.

News Corp. on March 30 named James Murdoch deputy COO and chairman/CEO, international, a new post.

The son of founder Rupert Murdoch will maintain responsibility for Europe and Asia, which he has led since 2007, but relocate to its New York headquarters to work closely with his father and report to Carey.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 4

Ranking of Travel PR Firms

(Click Here for Ranking)

Ranking of Home Furnishings PR Firms

(Click Here for Ranking)

Ranking of Environmental/PA PR Firms

(Click Here for Ranking)

Ranking of PR Firms Owned by Ad Agencies

(Click Here for Ranking)

Ranking of Atlanta PR Firms

(Click Here for Ranking)

Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 5


The U.S. Army has enlisted McCann WorldGroup for another tour of duty effective April 7, according to Dan Elkins, deputy for PA at the Army’s mission and installation contracting command.

Interpublic’s Team McCann, which has Weber Shandwick handling PR, developed the “Army Strong” campaign. It has worked the account since 2005.

The renewed contract is for one-year with annual option periods during the next four years. It is worth from $185M to $200M annually for advertising, Hispanic outreach, digital, media buying, PR, and recruitment duties. IPG has 300 staffers on the Army acct.


The regional planning organization for local governments in and around Washington, D.C., is reviewing its $130K PR account supporting Clean Air Partners, a non-profit aimed at curbing pollution.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued an RFP March 18 for an “expert marketing and communications firm” in the metro D.C.-Baltimore region to handle a media campaign, social media, web support, outreach and other PR.

PRR, a Seattle-based agency with a D.C. office, has previously handled the work.

A base one-year contract is planned. The $130K budget does not include costs for placing any advertising.

Pitches are due April 18.

Download the RFP at

BRIEFS: The Simon Group, Sellersville, Pa., marked its 25th anniversary in March. "We've brought together many talented Groupies (agency employees), clients, media reps and editors over the years to produce some of the most effective marcom programs around," said Marty Simon, founder and CEO. Simon said a lot has changed since he opened the doors in 1986 but noted many clients are in their second decade on the roster and said he looks forward to seeing what the future holds. ...Traction PR, Santa Monica, Calif., has moved to a new location and reduced its carbon footprint to zero via lower power monitors, high efficiency lighting, power consumption monitoring, less staff commuting, and the buying of carbon offset units. Contact: 2716 Ocean Park Blvd, Suite #3010, in Santa Monica, CA90405.


New York Area

Nancy J. Friedman PR, New York/Ambassador East Hotel and Pump Room restaurant, recently purchased by hotelier Ian Schrager as his first Chicago project. Both are set for refurbishing and possible renaming, and will reopen this fall, the firm said. Friedman was in-house PR counsel for Schrager and the late Steve Rubell in the mid 1980s.

The Brandman Agency, New York/Jamaica Inn; Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France; The Surrey hotel, New York, and MSC Yacht Club, Mediterranean cruises.

Robertson Solutions, New York/Accor Global Sales North America, hotel operator, for U.S. PR. Accor North America operates more than 1,100 properties including Motel 6, Studio 6, and Ibis; Sofitel Luxury Hotels; and Novotel locations.

Dera, Roslan & Campion, New York/PBS, to promote Prof. Henry Louis Gates' next special, "Black In Latin America.." DR&C will handle all broadcast, print, digital and social media surrounding the May 2011 broadcast.

Hawkins International, New York/DUKES LONDON, hotel; Manfredi Fine Hotel Collection, including Hotel Palazzo Manfredi and Hotel Punta Tragara in Italy; Lungarno Hotels, seven hotels in Florence and Rome; Chebeague Island Inn (Casco Bay, Me.), and Hotel Madeline Telluride and Inn at Lost Creek, both in Telluride, Colo.

Definition 6, New York/Vistage International, for-profit chief executive organization with more than 14,000 members in 15 countries, for PR, social media, and strategic comms.

Whitegate PR, Astoria, N.Y./LE Portfolio for iPad, portfolio presentation tool, for PR.


The Titan Agency, Atlanta/Bosch Thermotechnology Corp. North America, for advertising, PR, social media and branding in the U.S.


Courtly & Co., San Francisco/ZuniDigital, wireless network and smart power solutions, for U.S. PR and marketing comms.

Morgan Marketing & PR, Irvine, Calif./Togo's Eateries, sandwich eatery with 242 locations across the Western U.S., as AOR for PR.

BLAZE, Los Angeles/Daily Grill restaurants, national eatery brand, for PR.


Synergy Hill & Knowlton, Seoul, S.K./LG Display Co., as global AOR for PR following a competitive review. The firm already handles its U.S. business.

Ogilvy PR Worldwide, Shanghai/Sesame Workshop, nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” as PR counsel on a retainer basis for China.

— Greg Hazley

Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 6


The Federal Communications Commission has fined two TV stations in Minnesota and New Jersey for airing video news releases without properly identifying the sponsor.

The action stems from nearly five-year-old complaints filed by the non-profit groups Free Press and frequent PR critic the Center for Media and Democracy in 2006.

Free Press has posted the enforcement decisions on its website,

One segment promoted Zicam cold remedy marketed by Matrixx Initiatives and was aired on KMSP-TV, a Minneapolis Fox affiliate, in October 2006. The VNR was produced by D S Simon Productions.

The station argued that its airing was within FCC guidance on VNRs and that the segment was indentified as sponsored by a local hospital and carried a disclaimer that the hospital did not produce the spot. It also said it received no consideration, so further identification was not required.

The second piece was a VNR from General Motors and aired as part of a news report in June 2006 on WMGM-TV in Wildwood, N.J. The VNR was supplied by Fox’s video service, Fox News Edge.

The FCC said Fox objected to its inquiries as an “encroachment on the station’s editorial discretion.” The station said no sponsorship identification was required as no consideration was promised or given. It also noted the FCC has recognized that broadcasters are not required to make sponsor announcements when news releases are used with editorial comment.

The FCC said the airing showed 12 shots of GM cars and no other brands.

FCC enforcement bureau chief Michele Ellison handed down the fines.

The FCC in a March 24 enforcement action assessed $4,000 fines against the two stations.

“If the news business wants to know why they’re losing readers and viewers, they should look at decisions like this,” Free Press managing director Craig Aaron said in a statement.

VNRs became a flashpoint in 2004 after the New York Times brought the use of the PR materials to the public’s attention and sparked a debate that became a political football.

BRIEFS: Social media monitoring and consulting firm Visible Technologies has secured $6M in financing to be put toward sales and international growth. Existing investors, Investor Growth Capital, Centurion Holdings, Ignition Partners, In-Q-Tel and WPP participated. The latest round marks a total of $45M to date. ....Tobin Communications, Maryland, recently produced a series of audio/video Podcasts for the American College of Gastroenterology, part of an effort to promote the importance of screening for colorectal cancer and featuring Dr. Mark Pochapin, director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health. Content is at



Christopher Roe, strategic director of business development, marketing and PR, Hellmuth Obata + Kassabaum, to Allison & Partners, San Diego, as general manager of the office.

Keri Firstenberg Prestia, who oversaw Harrison & Shriftman's lifestyle and travel team, to Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations, New York, as a VP. She previously spent five years at Middleton & Gendron.

Anthony Antolino, senior VP, DMC Worldwide, to intellectual property holding corporation Hoyos Group, New York, as CMO.

Jennie Abrams to Breaking News PR, Beverly Hills, Calif., to head its New York operation as VP of media relations. She was executive director of New Line Home Entertainment’s communications division and worked in media relations at Edelman, overseeing Warner Home Video. She started out at MS&LGroup. Former New Line PR exec Josh Sabarra opened Breaking News PR in February.

Lisa Samuel, manager of media relations, Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, to Tucker & Associates, Dallas, as an A/S to lead two new accounts -- Visit Loudoun (The Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association) and Hylaco LLC's eraclea skin care line, which the agency helped launch on March 23 in New York. She'll also oversee Ski Utah and the convention and visitors bureaus for Plano, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; and Abilene, Texas.

Carol Wentworth, independent consultant, is rejoining Sparkpr, San Francisco, as a managing director. She was previously with Bite Communications and Sofinnova Ventures. Kevin Cheng, senior associate, Eastwick Communications, joins as an A/M. He was previously with Shift Comms. In New York, Spark added Weber Shandwick VP Jay Kolbe as senior director and SanDisk PR coordinator Emile Johnson as an associate. L.A. PR consultant Karen Blondell, who focuses on video games and mobile apps, joins Sparkpr/L.A. as a managing director. She was previously with TSI.


Kristen Vigrass to president and Emily Venugopal to VP, The Brandman Agency, New York. Melanie Brandman continues as founder and CEO.Vigrass joined in 2001 after working in-house for Calvin Klein and on the agency side at La Force & Stevens. Venugopal directs account teams for The Chatwal New York; Hotel La Mamounia, Marrakech; The Waikiki EDITION, and Virtuoso.

Kara Hendon to GM, Fleishman-Hillard, Kansas City, Mo. She had been deputy GM and takes over for Betsey Solberg, who remains with the firm as an executive consultant.

— Greg Hazley


Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 7


The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which funds care for about 1,200 ex-racehorses, has retained Los Angeles PR firm Capitol Media Partners as it continues to grapple with reverberations from a damaging New York Times report earlier last month.

A front-page story by the Times’ Joe Drape on March 18 reported scores of horses under contract for care through TRF have wound up “starved and neglected, some fatally,” while noting the group’s finances are in the red.

The article has sparked a state attorney general's investigation in New York, but the foundation has essentially fired a veterinarian who documented the animals’ alleged neglect after she supplied the data to the Times before the foundation could review it.

Since the vet’s firing March 20, the foundation lost a major benefactor, Paul Mellon, who had endowed $5M for the organization and financed the veterinarian's investigation.

CMP partner Richard Grenell, who was PR chief to the U.S. representative to the U.N. during the recent Bush administration and former corporate communications head for DaVita Inc., confirmed to O'Dwyer's that his agency has been hired by the foundation.

A statement from the PR firm March 29 blasted the Times report. “There have been some recent public criticisms of TRF and its oversight of our 1,100 horses from a reporter that took unsubstantiated claims and printed them without checking his facts,” said the statement, attributed to chairman Tom Ludt.

CMP is led by Grenell and his former DaVita colleague, Brad Chase, a veteran of Hill & Knowlton and Fleishman-Hillard.

The foundation is based in racing mecca Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


Education officials in Montana, armed with a four-year grant from the Lumina Foundation, are on the hunt for communications proposals for a 16-month campaign to support a state program to increase enrollment at two-year colleges.

Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education published an RFP March 25 for PR support of COLLEGE!Now, the state university system’s push toward enrollment, degree completion and increased transfer rates at its community colleges.

“As a statewide initiative involving multiple governance and stakeholder groups, strategic communications and engagement are essential to our project's success,” reads the RFP.

The Lumina Foundation is a $1.4 billion private entity focused on increasing the number of Americans who graduate college to 60 percent by 2025. It awarded Montana a four-year, $1.7M grant.

Proposals are due April 25. Download the RFP at


Stephanie Sutton, who served as a top national fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's Presidential run, has joined MWW Group as VP in its corporate affairs practice. She reports to CEO Michael Kempner.

After the Clinton run, Sutton was finance director for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and fundraising consultant to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who knocked off wrestling mogul Linda McMahon in Connecticut.

Kemper praised Sutton for leading “fundraising and public policy initiatives for some of the nation's and world's most influential politicians.” That “insider’s knowledge of government coupled with her network of local, state, federal and global levels will be a great asset to our clients and our firm.”

Pre-Clinton, Sutton was deputy director of outreach for the Third Way, a non-profit think tank active with economic, national security, clean energy and cultural issues, and a staffer at Quinn Gillespie & Assocs.

MWW ranks No. 7 on O'Dwyer's roster of independent firms with 2010 fees of $34.8M.


Sard Verbinnen & Co. is handling the Chapter 11 filing of Harry & David Holdings, the specialty food and gourmet gift basket retailer.

The Medford, Ore.-based company fell victim to a sluggish economy and heavy debt connected with the $250M private equity takeover of the 77-year-old firm by Wasserstein & Co. It posed a $4.3M loss on $302M first-half sales.

The Chapter 11 filing enables H&DH to restructure its balance sheet and eliminate the bulk of corporate debt.

Interim CEO Kay Hong promises no interruption of customer service. Consumers will be able to purchase products via online, catalog and at the 70 retail outlets nationwide. The company also will honor its “Fruit-of-the-Month” gift cards and other promotional programs.

SV&C managing director Stephanie Pillersdorf and principal Cassandra Bujarski handle media.


Fleishman-Hillard is handling media relations for a Kuwait-based peace group under a subcontract with Gray Loeffler, which is headed by former Congressmen Bill Gray (D-Pa.) and Tom Loeffler (R-Tex).

For Sheikh Fahad Salem Al Ali Al Sabah and the Fahad Al Salem Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty, F-H pitches national, business and foreign policy reporters in N.Y. and D.C.

The PR firm is to focus on the Center's mission of combating extremism by building cultural bridges via citizen journalism and placing constructive messaging in various media outlets.

The Fahad Al SalemCenter is bankrolled by Kuwait’s ruling family.

The Omnicom unit has a one-month contract worth $20K that ran through April 5.


Internet Edition, April 6, 2011, Page 8




As a 1956 graduate of the University of Connecticut, I'm thrilled that both the men's and women's basketball teams made it to the finals of the NCAA tournament.

I'm depressed, however, about the soaring cost of attending this land-grant institution, which was a stepping stone for many a poor student decades ago.
Four-year cost when I went there was about $4,000.

It's now at least $100,000 ($24K yearly just for tuition/room/board).

The "U.S. Inflation Calculator," based on the Consumer Price Index, says the inflation rate since 1956 is 713% and that an item that cost $1,000 in 1956 should cost $8,136 now (eight times the cost instead of 24 times).

College costs have far exceeded the inflation rate.

According to many critics, just one of which is the new book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning” on College Campuses, students are paying more and learning less.

Like many fellow students in the 1950s, I was the first generation in a family able to attend college.

I worked a year in a Bridgeport factory to save the needed money since no help could come from my family. Neither parent finished grade school. Odd jobs during college and factory jobs in the three summers paid close to 100% of the cost.

I'm disgusted to read about the high pay of UCONN officials.

Police chief Robert Hudd made $246,961 last year which is more than any big city police chief makes including New York's Raymond Kelly whose pay is $189,700. He heads the biggest police dept. in the U.S.-37,838 cops. Hudd supervises 76 cops.

No. 2 UCONN cop Ronald Blicher got $193,616.

All 12 state employees that were paid more than $500K last year were either UCONN coaches or doctors, according to the Yankee Institute. There are 286 top-level administrators at UCONN.

The trustees will look into the high pay but admit that only the UCONN president can set pay scales. The board sounds like the usual know-nothing, do-nothing board.

UCONN Police Quiet on Sex Case

UCONN police, confronted in 2005 with the explosive issue of the son of the head of PR being involved on Sept. 25, 2005 in a sexual practice called “bukakke,” put a lid on it.

The dept. decided that no sex crime was involved since the victim was not actually touched by three UCONN men. A new state law made this practice a sex crime.

No report surfaced until about four months later when the Hartford Courant got a tip and published a story Feb. 3, 2006.

Worst example is the silence of police and others that was a factor in 30 deaths at Virginia Tech in 2007.

VP police chief Wendell Filcher as well as legal counsel and various administrators met shortly after two murders were discovered at 7:15 on April 16, 2007. They sat on the news for at least two hours while looking for a suspect.

Top Two UCONN PR Staffers Retired

Scott Brohinsky, a lawyer who headed UCONN's PR for decades and who is the father of Zak Brohinsky, former UCONN student who served 75 days in jail on charges related to the Sept. 25, 2005 incident, retired early in 2009. Retiring at the same time was his No. 2 person, Karen Grava.

Brohinsky, 59 at the time, who made $200,000, is eligible for an annual pension of about $120,000, according to the Courant.

Grava, paid $133,000, was eligible for a pension of "more than $80,000," it said. She is now teaching in UCONN's Communication Sciences dept. as an adjunct.

We can't prove it but we suspect the simultaneous retirement of what the Courant called UCONN's "top PR voices" was related to the sex scandal.

New PR Head Is Marketing-Oriented

Replacing Brohinsky is Jim Walter, associate VP for communications heading “marketing and PR.”

That “marketing” comes first is a tip-off. He will no doubt personify the school’s “go-go” mentality.

The promise of PR is "relations" and not browbeating audiences with "messages."

Walter once worked at Johnson & Johnson, one of the tightest-lipped companies in the U.S. I wonder if there was a search for this important position. New blood is what is needed.

Besides the skyrocketing cost of an education at UCONN, Walter must deal with other PR issues including the three-game suspension next year of coach Jim Calhoun on charges of improper recruiting tactics.

The New York Times, raining on the school’s parade April 2, told of the school’s dealings with prized-recruit Nate Miles that practically wrecked his life.

The “recruiting scandal let to an assortment of punishments” for the school, said the NYT.

I'm not impressed with Walter’s background and especially after PR being headed for nearly three decades by a lawyer.

Legal keeps PR on a tight leash. Legal training and communications mix like oil and water. Faced with a reporter's questions, lawyers take their own “Miranda rights”-claiming their right not to say anything that may be used against them. Silence ensues.

Walter has spent the past 13 years at UCONN's Health Center in Farmington, 30 miles from the main campus, as head of “communications and marketing.” The June 8, 2009 release announcing his new job leaves out the location of the Health Center. He will now be “based” at the main campus in Storrs but will “divide his time” between Storrs and Farmington. He continues as an instructor at the Health Center.

Walter has a B.S. in communication management from Ithaca College and also worked for Osteotech and MED Communication.

— Jack O'Dwyer


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