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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - May 9, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 18 (download PDF version)

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Amtrak train

Virginia Railway Express, the commuter line that ties Washington, D.C., to the Virginia suburbs, has narrowed a review of its six-figure PR and advertising pact to three firms.

Burson-Marsteller, Pulsar Advertising and Sparky’s Garage, will compete as finalists for the railway’s account, valued at $200K/year.

VRE, established 19 years ago, carries about 18,500 passengers each workday via 18 stations.

Alexandria-based Williams Whittle Associates is winding down a pact through the end of the VRE’s fiscal year. It has worked with the railway for the past six years.


Michael Freitag

Michael Freitag, a partner at Kekst and Company who led the firm’s restructuring and reorganization practice, has moved to rival Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher as a partner.

Freitag joined Kekst in 1990 after working as a copy boy and reporter-intraining at the New York Times, including a stint as news clerk to columnist and executive editor Abe Rosenthal.

His high-profile assignments at Kekst included the collapse of Enron and the Supreme Court’s reversal of Arthur Andersen’s criminal conviction, as well as bankruptcy efforts for companies like Kmart, Blockbuster, General Motors, W.R. Grace and Owens-Corning.

Kekst is owned by Publicis. JFWBK is independent.


Susan Hayes

Porter Novelli has tapped Susan Hayes for the global healthcare spot, a practice that includes Pfizer, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and Merck. She takes over for Barbara DeBuono, the former New York State Commissioner of Health who exited to helm Orbis International, a $100M nonprofit group that promotes eye care through the developing world. Hayes, who returned to Omnicom unit PN a year ago, is a veteran of S. Hayes Consulting, Cooney Waters and WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather.


FTI Consulting reported first quarter venue at its strategic communications division, FD, rose 7.3 percent to $46.4M over 2010 on “modest” U.S. and U.K. client growth and stronger project work in Asia and the U.S.

Overall, the business consulting combine posted a 3.3% increase in revenue for Q1 to $361.8M while net income surged nearly 54% to $21.8M.

President and CEO Jack Dunn said bankruptcy and restructuring business remained soft, but its other operations, like FD, M&A and technology consulting accounted for 9.5 percent growth.

The company said FD has 586 revenue-generating staffers.

The firm was the top M&A PR advisor for Q1 based on volume of deals, according to mergermarket, as it counseled 47 transactions during the period worth $66.4B, edging out rival Brunwick Group (41).

During the quarter, FTI acquired certain European operations of global consulting firm LECG Corp. They included LECG’s competition policy practice, financial advisory services unit and tax consultancy group

FTI also spent $209.4M buying back stock during Q1 and is slated to retire five million shares.


Burson-Marsteller has hired Lisa Travatello for the global consumer and brand marketing chair and creative director spot at the WPP unit.

Lisa Travatello

Travatello joins from Interpublic’s Current Lifestyle Marketing operation, where she held the executive VP and curator of creativity position.

Travatello, who has more than 25 years of marketing communications experience, becomes a member of B-M’s business operations team of top executives. She reports to Mark Penn, CEO.

At Current, Travatello handled clients such as Travel Alberta, Clorox, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (an account currently under review), Bali Intimate Apparel and Weleda.

Previously, she was at another IPG unit, Weber Shandwick, as chief creative officer and executive VP of consumer marketing. She counseled General Motors, Unilever and Ocean Spray.

Travatello did stints at Porter Novelli (Omnicom), Edelman, and Ogilvy PR (WPP).

She also was PR coordinator for Pittsburgh’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

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