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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Jan. 9, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 2 (download PDF version)

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California has commenced an agency search to promote its health insurance exchange as the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law approaches full deployment in January 2014.

The California Health Benefit Exchange, under the state’s Dept. of Health Care Services and Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, issued an RFP Dec. 27 for an agency to provide communications support and develop an outreach and education campaign.

Budget is set at $900K over 20 months from March 2012 to October 2013.

The RFP notes the outreach effort will be “highly technical and complex” in a state with a large and diverse population.

“The exchange as a new institution needs to develop an identity in the public’s mind where it is seen, together with the DHCS and MRMIB, as a trusted source of information about health coverage and a convenient place to compare offerings and purchase coverage,” the state notes.

Proposals are due Jan. 30. View the RFP:


Gerard Meuchner, chief communications officer for Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak, has resigned from the embattled company.


Meuchner exits after 11 years with the imaging giant, which is struggling to stave off a bankruptcy filing some see as inevitable.

Meuchner was a veteran Bloomberg News reporter and editor before moving to the PR side with Kodak in 2000.

Christopher Veronda is manager of corporate communications and public affairs at Kodak, serving as Kodak’s primary spokesman.

Kodak worked with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher over the summer as it maneuvered to prevent a takeover as its share price dwindled below $3. Shares have since dipped below $1 and the company received a delisting warning from the New York Stock Exchange Jan. 3.

Moody’s downgraded Kodak debt last week citing the increased probability it will need bankruptcy protection.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this week that Kodak is preparing a Chapter 11 filing “in the coming weeks” if it can’t sell of some of its valuable patents.

Kodak’s fourth quarter results will be announced January 26.


Tim Cost, who joined PepsiCo in Dec. 2010 as executive VP-global corporate affairs, is out at the soft drinks, juice and snacks marketer. He will take on a “consultative role,” according to a statement released to O’Dwyer’s.


PepsiCo says the “transition is taking place to accommodate Tim’s plans to spend more time with his family in Philadelphia.”

The 30-year PR veteran joined the Purchase, N.Y.-based company from APCO Worldwide, where he had an executive VP slot.

Earlier, he was senior VP-corporate affairs at Wyeth, executive VP-corporate affairs at Aramark, senior VP at Pharmacia and senior VP-communications & strategy at Centocor.

Cost, who chaired the National Investor Relations Institute, began his career at Eastman Kodak.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said it “has been rewarding for us to have someone with Tim’s experience at PepsiCo. “We look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.”

Julie Hamp, the former General Motors executive, remains in the senior VP/chief communications officer post.

The New York Post reported Jan. 5 that PepsiCo may lay off 4,000 workers in a bid to bolster profits.


Gary Grates, president/global managing director of Edelman Change and Employee Engagement and onetime VP corporate communications at General Motors/North America, has taken a senior management post at WCGC, parent company of San Francisco-based independent firm WCG.

He is to tackle change management, corporate positioning, strategic development, mergers & acquisitions and global expansion.

Jim Weiss, CEO of WCGC, called Grates’ recruitment a “game-changing hire” that will spur the next phase of evolution and growth of the firm.

At GM, Grates also served as global process leader for internal communications and was a member of the teaching staff of its university.

Earlier, he was president of GCI BoxenbaumGrates and executive VP/managing director of GCI Consulting, a unit of GCI Group Public Relations.

In his more than 25-year career, Grates has counseled, PepsiCo, Volvo, Kraft, Caterpillar, Shell, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and GE.

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