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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Dec. 3, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 48 (download PDF version)

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is casting a net for PR and marketing agencies that qualify as small businesses and can handle integrated multicultural communications assignments.

The federal entity said it wants to hear from firms “capable, available and qualified” for work like press conference support and earned media campaigns and assignments promoting Medicare, Medicaid, provisions of the Affordable Care Act, among other topics, to Hispanic, African American and Asian-American Pacific Islander audiences.

CMS, as the federal agency is known, works with Ketchum, Ogilvy, Porter Novelli, Weber Shandwick and Fleishman-Hillard as its prime PR contractors, following a 2011 review.

CMS said it previously hired separate firms for each multicultural audience but wants to gauge the availability of firms which can handle the work across various audiences on an integrated basis.

Among the assignments is developing and executing “culturally appropriate … public relations campaigns and in-language advertising,” earned media, grassroots outreach, and partnership development, according to a “sources sought” notice released by CMS.

“As a result of the [Affordable Care Act], CMS will be conducting outreach and education to new audiences,” said the notice.

Firms are asked to respond by Dec. 14.



The University of Virginia Health System, the large Charlottesville-based institution composed of hospitals, medical and nursing schools, and other healthcare facilities is reviewing its PR, advertising and marketing account with an RFP process through mid-December.

Agencies are invited to pitch all or parts of the business, which includes an assessment of its market and development of marketing, PR and creative strategy.

Contracts awarded will stretch for three years.

Proposals are due Dec. 14.

View the RFP:


Next Fifteen said Nov. 27 a “personal act of embezzlement” by a long-time staffer in Bite Communications’ San Francisco office has led to a $2.8M write-off as the FBI and San Francisco Police investigate the alleged crime.

Next Fifteen on Oct. 31 said it would delay release of its financial results for the year ended July 31 because a fraud was discovered.

In releasing its financials, the company said a long-standing member of the Bite finance team “in a trusted position” committed the act, which continued into the early part of the current fiscal year.

In addition to a $2.8M charge for the past year, chairman Richard Eyre said another write-off of $200K will be booked in the current year.

Revenues for the year rose six percent to £91.6M as the write-off cut into the group’s profits. Technology PR, which is more than 66% of NF revenues, grew by just over 2%, despite Bite’s loss of the HP account.

Consumer PR declined by more than six percent on a “tough year” at its U.K. Lexis PR operation. Corporate communications, although only 7.2% of revenue, jumped 31% on revenues from The Blueshirt Group. Its pure digital/research business (10% of revenues) grew 34% organically.

Next Fifteen said steps are being taken to recoup lost assets from the fraud, but it’s too soon to estimate the likelihood of success.


Robert Phillips, chief of Edelman’s EMEA operation, has exited the company a week after adding newly minted duties of global chair-public engagement and future strategies (11/19/2012 NL).


Susan Eastoe, COO of EMEA, is assuming Phillips’ responsibilities on as interim basis as Richard Edelman and senior management review the structure of the operation.

Phillips joined the No. 1 independent shop in 2004 after it acquired his Jackie Cooper PR.

He became CEO of Edelman/U.K. in 2007 and CEO of EMEA January 2011.

Edelman praised Phillips for recruiting “many of the industry’s most talented people” to the shop and overseeing 150 percent growth in the U.K to the $60M range.

Phillips, who is a visiting professor in London, is working on a sequel to “Citizen Renaissance,” which sees the world shifting from rampant consumerism to citizen-based values.

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