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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Sept. 19, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 36 (download PDF version)

Page 5 Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8
NEWS OF PR FIRMS ________________


DDC Advocacy, the tech-savvy Washington, D.C., firm, has acquired PA consulting shop BlueFront Strategies, the firm of former White House political director for President George W. Bush, Sara Taylor Fagen.

Fagen, owner and founder of the Alexandria, Va.based shop, joins DDCA as partner and will serve on the firm's board of directors.

DDCA CEO B.R. McConnon III cited Fagen's "deep knowledge of integrating technology into campaigns" as key to the move. "As we move into the upcoming legislative battles on Capitol Hill and the 2012 election cycle, we can make Sara's expertise available to clients in our efforts to advance their objectives," he said.

DDCA was founded by McConnon in 1996 as Democracy Data & Communications.


Amid economic uncertainty and apprehension from large agencies to engage short-term or small-scale projects, New York PR pro Mike Paul said he is offering clients a two-hour counseling session below his standard hourly billing rate.

Paul, an independent advisor for nearly two decades via MGP & Associates after working at Burson-Marsteller, told O’Dwyer’s he typically bills at $850 per hour but is offering an advisory session he likens to a PR version of “visiting your therapist” for less than $1,000.

“Traditionally, agencies give away the farm for free in an initial consultation,” he said. “This session gives them a chance to ‘test drive’ our advice on improving a reputation or work toward a solution to a problem, while also compensating us for our time.”

Paul said he also seeks to engage clients that seek short-term or immediate advice and are weary of lengthy retainers. “People have smaller situations that many agencies won’t touch,” he said, noting concerns over smaller fees or conflicts with larger clients are often cited as rationale for turning away such business.

Paul added that his two-hour counseling sessions play to PR's roots in psychology with the intention of changing ineffective or harmful – to a reputation – behavior.


Kekst and Company is bolstering the media defense of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. as the company’s largest shareholder mounts a PR offensive to land a board seat.

Sardar Biglari, who heads a San Antonio-based investment firm that owns 9.3% of Cracker Barrel and has a reputation for turning around the Steak n Shake restaurant company, launched on Sept. 13 and released a letter to CB shareholders hitting company leadership as lacking “accountability, transparency, and stock ownership” and pitching himself for a board seat.

Biglari also took a shot at the company for hiring Kekst among a spate of “the most expensive lawyers and financial advisors.”

NEW ACCOUNTS __________________

New York

5W PR, New York/Frames, Manhattan bowling alley, restaurant, and bar, for PR.

Workhouse, New York/Matthew Modine, filmmaker and actor, for a comprehensive PR plan for personal and project publicity, charitable initiatives and events.

Definition 6, New York/Locomotive Distribution, for a multi-tiered campaign for the new feature-length hip hop horror film executive-produced by Spike Lee, “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Kills You.” East

Topaz Partners, Woburn, Mass./Bronto Software, marketing platform for online and multi-channel retailers; Dartware, a developer of mapping and alerting software; Millivision, full-body scanners; SystemsExperts, security and compliance consulting, and PROS, pricing optimization software.

French/West/Vaughan, Raleigh, N.C./Disney Channel's Brandon Mychal Smith, as marketing and PR AOR. Twenty-two-year-old Smith has roles in “Sonny with a Chance,” “Phil of the Future” and “So Random.”

MMI PR, Raleigh/Welty Building Company, 66-yearold commercial builder and contractor focused on healthcare, education and non-profits, as AOR for PR.


Trevelino/Keller, Atlanta/Snapfinger, remote web and mobile ordering and pre-payment service for the restaurant industry, to manage PR.

Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications, Coral Gables, Fla./Tourism Development Company Limited for Trinidad and Tobago, for PR following a review. The firm has handled the account for the past 16 years. Its new deal spans three years and adds a sales and e-marketing component.


Griffin Communications Group, Houston/The Conrad Foundation, for strategic planning and collaboration, communications planning and overall management and operational support of the non-profit, which aims to give students the chance to design, develop, and commercialize innovative products using science and technology.

Preferred PR, Los Angeles/KISS By Monster Mini Golf, amusement attraction themed after the rock band KISS, for PR and media relations.


Maccabee, Minneapolis/RedBrick Health, health technology company, for national PR, corporate communications and social media/online marketing.


Nadel Phelan, Scotts Valley, Calif./ HelpSTAR, helpdesk software, as AOR for PR.

JS2 Communications, Los Angeles/Golden Road Brewing, for PR. The firm reps Tony's Darts Away and Mohawk Bend, which, along with Golden Road, have the same owner, beer expert Tony Yanow.


Cohn & Wolfe, London/ Tesco, for U.K. and Ireland PR for, its online weight loss service, following a four-firm competitive pitch.

— Greg Hazley

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