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October 31, 2006

Marathoning Mouthpieces

Marinecorpsmarathon2 News of two DC spokesguys who competed in last weekend's Marine Corps Marathon:  Roll Call reports that the DSCC's "goody-two-shoes spokesman" Phil Singer finished his second-ever marathon in 3:37 -- a personal record.  "Asked if he was worried that his counterparts over at the [NRSC] might gain ground in critical contests while he was out jogging, Singer said, 'That’s why I ran it so quickly.'"

Meanwhile, Yays and Nays says that "Qorvis Communication’s man about town, David Bass, took 4:20 to complete the course."  A little slower than Singer, but still probably better than Potomac Flacks could pull off. Congrats gents.

Thank You! Be Here All Week. Try the Veal, It's Delicious...

Comedian_1 Someone needs to sponsor a wise-cracking seminar for Capitol Hill press secretaries.  Yays and Nays tried to elicit a little comedy out of Hill flacks by asking what their bosses are dressing as for Halloween.  But they mostly got groaners:

» “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.: “He plans to dress up as a chairman of a congressional committee in the majority party — and will continue to wear that costume after the election and for the next two years,” said his press secretary.

» Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.: “Was thinking of dressing up as the GOP Congress, but he’s having some trouble finding a rubber stamp costume,” says his press secretary.

» Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.: “Tell them I’m dressing up as a Republican — that’s the scariest thing I can think of” he said.

Please, people.  Less cheese, more wit.

Flack Profile: Jamie Dettmer, Cato Institute

Jamiedettmer2 Our flack profile series continues with Jamie Dettmer, native Brit and Director of Media Relations for the Cato Institute. Cato is DC's leading libertarian-oriented think tank. (Check out previous flack profiles).

Hometown: I was born in London – the United Kingdom - but my hometown now is a small Italian village called Celleno, which is about 15 minutes from Orvieto. I get there a few weeks a year.
How long have you been in your current position? 22 months
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? Prime Minister, Professional Cricketer, Right-winger for Tottenham Hotspur, a journalist. I failed in the first three ambitions.
Where did you fall in your family’s birth order (i.e., eldest child, middle child)? Second Child – technically speaking.
What college did you go to and what was your major? I went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. I took honors in English and History.
Did you ever work on the Hill?  If so, for whom? Heavens, no!
The nerdiest thing you ever did as a kid was… Collect shards of Anglo-Saxon pottery from a cremation site in East Anglia and 17th and 18th century clay pipes. 

Continue reading "Flack Profile: Jamie Dettmer, Cato Institute" »

Pentagon PR Shop Sets Up War War Room

Dorrancesmith Hey, Wal-Mart's got a "war room."  So does Harry Reid.  Now the Pentagon PR shop wants in on the fun. 

Wash Post reports that "the Pentagon is buttressing its public relations staff and starting an operation akin to a political campaign war room amid intensifying criticism over the Iraq war."  The "reorganization" is headed by Asst. Secretary for Public Affairs Dorrance Smith (left), and will include blog outreach, rapid response, and TV/radio bookings. 

Lest you think this has anything at all to do with how the Iraq war is going, Pentagon spokesguy  Eric Ruff "denied that the effort was set up to respond to eroding public support for the war."  So there.

UPDATE: AFP has more.

October 30, 2006

More on Fenty's Firing of Spokesguy Evans

Adrianfenty_1 Washington City Paper sheds some light on DC mayor-to-be Adrian Fenty's firing of spokesman Alec Evans (previously reported here) -- apparently due to Evans' attempts to reclaim his personal life a bit after Fenty's primary victory:

  • "[Evans] comes across as smart, cocky, and nearly as tireless as the boss. Evans’ swagger was a key aspect of the Fenty brand. He had every reason to believe he would be the public face of a youthful Fenty administration that is already turning heads in the newsrooms of national publications."
  • "Evans’ biggest mistake, say Fenty insiders, was taking a bit of a breather in recent weeks, following the flurry of activity stemming from the candidate’s stirring September win. For instance, he failed to attend a recent event involving Fenty and Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Martin O’Malley. Fenty is also said to have been displeased that his press operation didn’t stir coverage for a recent fact-finding visit to Chicago, in which he met with education officials...Sources also say Fenty was chafed when Evans was unable to attend a few mandatory staff meetings."
  • "During the course of the campaign, Evans was briefly absent from the action on account of a family emergency. The usual distractions of youth—Evans has a girlfriend—apparently also ran counter to Fenty’s demands."

And for anyone interested in applying for the mayor's press office job, better think twice: "[Fenty's] quick hook for what some viewed as his right-hand man sends a message to the folks who’ll be invited to serve in a Fenty administration. Top-flight municipal managers tend to be middle-aged folks with families or at least a hobby. Spending time on such distractions could spell disaster when working for such a demanding boss."

Lobbyist Welcomes Facebook, MySpace into Policy Campaigns

Dutko Worldwide Vice Chairman for Public Policy Gary J. Andres writes in this morning's Wash Times that "new media technologies, which started with political applications, are now quickly migrating to the lobbying world." (DC PR firms like mine are already helping companies navigate this world.) More Andres:

Expanding these tools [like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook] into lobbying and advocacy is already happening too, but a lot more is on the way...In the public-policy world, as with electoral politics, whoever figures out the best way to use new media and the Internet will possess a major advocacy advantage. Applying new media techniques more broadly to lobbying offers huge potential and is already well underway.

[A] post last week on the Personal Democracy Forum Web site underscored this point. It highlighted a campaign by a group called Campus Progress, which is advocating more funding for college financial aid. Advertisements in the campaign urge students to help "make college affordable now" by text messaging the word "Debt" to a code that sends an automated response asking for their e-mail address and ZIP code. A subsequent e-mail tells them how to get in touch with their representatives (based on ZIP code).

Saliterman Leads WH Rapid Response

Whitehousedriveway_1 USA Today pulls back the curtain on the WH daily rapid response effort, led by Director of Rapid Response Rob Saliterman:

"Every weekday at 8 a.m., right after President Bush meets with senior staff, his communications team huddles in a second floor West Wing office to plan new moves in the information war...The White House digital war room blasts thousands of electronic messages each day, aimed at more than 2,000 targets. They include journalists, Republican staffers in government, radio talk show hosts, television bookers, Internet bloggers and what White House communications director Kevin Sullivan described as other 'interested parties.'"

More: "A busy day for Bush's digital warriors goes something like this: On Sept. 6, the day Bush proposed his plan for military trials of terrorism suspects, the White House sent at least seven missives. They included two "fact sheets" explaining the program, a list detailing myths and facts about the CIA's interrogations of these suspects, and another entitled 'setting the record straight' addressed to critics of the plan."

NYT Mag's Snow Profile: The Highlights

Tonysnow5 As we mentioned, Sunday's NYT Magazine filed a 5,018-word profile on WH Press Secretary Tony Snow, with reporter Ben Wallace-Wells summing up, "Snow’s style is basically cheery: Gee, isn’t it fun to run the world?" Some highlights:

Briefings as Time-Sucks: "I don’t think Tony fully realized when he started," Bartlett told me, "how much of an elephant in the room the briefing is. When you get done preparing for the gaggle, doing the gaggle, preparing for the briefing, doing the briefing, taking reporter’s calls, that’s basically your day. It’s not like you’ve got all this time left to do other stuff."

More Access: And in the months since Bolten took over and hired Snow, this famously closed White House has become marginally more open. It has given reporters more on-the-record access to the president and has brought in more governmental experts to brief the press. White House officials say that these changes came, in part, at Snow’s urging.

Continue reading "NYT Mag's Snow Profile: The Highlights" »

October 27, 2006

NYT's Sunday Mag to Profile Snow

Tonysnow4 The Note previews This Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile of WH flack Tony Snow:

"According to White House officials, Snow does play a bigger role than previous press secretaries did in helping to design the day's response to anticipated press inquiries. But Snow's more obvious success has been within the theatrical confines of the press room — in deflecting damaging stories before they gain traction, in phrasing the president's position more eloquently and precisely than Bush himself is able to and in imposing the White House's line on the story of the day."

White House counselor Dan Bartlett, as part of his overall praise for his colleagues, credits Snow with pushing the President to speak to the NAACP in advance of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Job of the Week: Supremes Looking for Mouthpiece

Supremecourt_1The Highest Court in the Land is looking for a new member of its PR team, presumably to work under the Court's Supreme Flacktress Kathy Arberg.  True, the justices are notoriously press-shy, but then again John Roberts is giving press conferences and releasing oral argument transcripts just hours afterwards...so perhaps the Court needs an additional body to help manage all this newfound openness.  Courtesy of K Street Project:

Public Information Specialist
Supreme Court Of The United States

Description: SALARY RANGE: 43,674.00 - 68,703.00 USD per year OPEN PERIOD: Friday, October 06, 2006 to Monday, October 23, 2006 Temporary position not to exceed One-year
JOB SUMMARY: One-year temporary appointment with possible extension. Appointment includes benefits coverage. The Public Information Specialist is responsible for supervising the first point of contact services provided to the public and press at the Supreme Court. Responds to information needs, makeseffective use of communication and research skills, and provides leadership, advice, and assistance onpublic information office matters. Has personal contact with, and responds orally and in writing to 85 requests from, members of the press, Chambers, Court officials, Congressional offices, other federal agencies, and the general public. Duties include supervision of an office intern.

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    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

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    Laura Gross is currently president of Scott Circle Communications. She has served as deputy director of communications at the DNC, was Gov. Howard Dean's Communications Director and she worked in the press office at USAID during the Clinton administration. Her experience also includes time in the PR department of National Public Radio and she was part of Vice President Gore's advance team when he was in The White House.
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    Blain K. Rethmeier - Contributor
    Blain K. Rethmeier is currently the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA). Rethmeier joined AIA from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President for Communications and directed communications for the National Economic Council and Homeland Security Council. Prior to joining the White House, Rethmeier served as Press Secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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