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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Jan. 30, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 5 (download PDF version)

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Alaska is trolling for PR help for a $5.4 billion hydroelectric power plant project that has gained steam after three decades of planning.

Alaska hydro-power

The project, dubbed the Susitna-Watana Project and in development for three decades, is key to Alaska’s plan to get 50 percent of its power from renewable sources and picked up momentum last year when the state moved to spend $65M to build a project team.

The Alaska Energy Authority released an RFP Jan. 24 for PR like media relations, publication development and advocacy assistance as it involves the public in the process.

A $500K PR budget for the first year of a contract is planned.

The 700-foot tall, 600-megawatt dam will create a 39-mile-long reservoir two miles wide. Estimates say it could be on-line by 2023.

Deadline is Feb. 21. RFP:


Ketchum and Penn State have parted ways after the Omnicom firm’s hiring in November amid the child abuse scandal that rocked the institution.

Nittany Lion

Rodney Erickson, president of Penn State, said the university decided after the holiday break that it no longer needed help, according to the local State College newspaper, Centre Daily.

Erickson had previously said the school paid $360K to Ketchum to help with the crisis.

Kekst and Company has worked for the special committee of the school’s board investigating Penn State’s actions regarding the abuse allegations.

McGinn & Company has handled PR for the family of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, including deflecting rumors of and a day later the announcement of his death Jan. 22.

Penn State distributed more than 10,000 tickets to a Jan. 26 memorial service for Paterno. Ebay pulled the plug on some of the tickets that showed up for auction on the site.


Greenpeace is complaining to the Securities and Exchange Commission that TransCanada is inflating the number of U.S. jobs that will be created with construction of its Keystone XL pipeline, which may be a violation of U.S. securities disclosure laws.

Executive director Phil Radford penned a Jan. 26 letter to SEC chairman Mary Shapiro saying TransCanada’s claim of “20,000 high-wage manufacturing and construction jobs” resulting from Keystone is a false and misleading number. That figure comes from a TransCanada-commissioned report from economist Ray Perryman.

Radford, who sent a copy of his letter to TransCanada’s board of directors, notes the 20,000 figure is “67 times higher than job creation totals given by the company to Canadian officials for the Canadian portion of the pipeline.”

Wrote Radford: “These false and misleading job creation numbers are part of TransCanada’s lobbying and PR campaign designed to create Congressional pressure to issue a presidential permit approving construction of Keystone.”

In noting that Greenpeace has neither built nor operated a pipeline, TransCanada spokesperson Shawn Howard rapped the environmental group's claims as false and without merit. “We stand by our job numbers as they can easily be substantiated,” he told O’Dwyer’s via e-mail. He said it’s easy for Greenpeace to “question our reporting without any accountability. As a publicly-traded company, we are required to make accurate and timely disclosures about our business.”


Tech PR pioneer Andy Cunningham has left e-commerce platform developer Rearden Commerce to head North American operations for Bite Communications.


Cunningham was at Regis McKenna in the early 1980s before founding and building her own agency into a $24M shop in the 1980s-90s, later selling to Huntsworth for $75M. Her client list has included icons like IBM, HP and Apple, for which she handled the Macintosh launch.

She takes the new post of president for Next Fifteen-owned Bite, charged with building out an integrated marketing and communications offering for the agency, including analytics, content development and distribution channels. Cunningham joined Rearden in December 2010 as chief marketing officer after a stint founding and running CXO Communication.

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