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January 31, 2007

Insert Bad "Mo" Pun Here

Hillaryclinton2 Team Hillary continues its comms hiring spree:

Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign now includes Mo Elleithee, a veteran of a half dozen major campaigns of the past eight years. Elleithee will be the campaign's senior spokesperson and will oversee its regional press shop...He joins Phil Singer, the campaign's deputy communications director and nat'l spokesman, Kim Molstre, the campaign's long-term communications planner, and Howard Wolfson, the as-yet-untitled maestro of Clinton's public image.

Plotkin Says Flack Morris "Became A Different Person"

Markplotkin WTOP's Mark Plotkin (right) was asked in his weekly Wash Post chat about DC Mayor Adrian Fenty's decision to nominate Vince Morris -- a former NY Post reporter who was spokesguy to former Mayor Anthony Williams and now speaks for Sen. John Kerry -- to the Sports and Entertainment Commission. Plotkin:

Included in Fenty's nominations was Vince Morris, Williams former heavy handed obstructionist flack...I knew Vince when he was an excellent reporter at the Washington Times. He went through some sort of personality transformation when he assumed the job of Spokesperson for Williams. He was almost universally reviled and mistrusted by the entire press corps. I don't know what happened to him, but he became a different person and there is almost total relief that he no longer holds that position. He now works for Senator Kerry and I hope the old Vince Morris re-emerges.

Rothenberg Bursts Vilsack's Spin Bubble

Tomvilsack_1 Stu Rothenberg received Tom Vilsack's (left) campaign press release, in which campaign spokesguy Josh Earnest announced that the campaign raised "more than $1.1 million in last 7 weeks of 2006."  Color him unimpressed. Rothenberg:

"My reaction? Oh, Brother. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Anytime a press release talks about "a powerful indication" and spends more time on message than on reporting the news contained in the press release, you know you are getting mostly hype."

Ex-Hill Flacks To Help GOP Regain Message Footing

Capitolpurple_1 Roll Call reports that "as House Republicans repair their political operations in hopes of taking back the chamber next year, their message gurus are looking downtown for help. The National Republican Congressional Committee is asking veteran Capitol Hill flacks who now are working in the private sector to volunteer their advice on crafting a communications strategy."

Among those pitching in: Greg Crist, a former communications director of the House Republican Conference who now works at Dutko Worldwide; Gary Andres, also of Dutko; Stuart Roy, of DCI Group; Jonathan Grella, of Edelman; John Feehery, spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America; David All; Boehner alumns Terry Holt and Marc Lampkin; crisis expert Barbara Comstock and strategist Jonathan Baron.

January 29, 2007

People: Ex-Burns Spokesguy To Burson

  • Matt Mackowiak, formerly Press Secretary to ex-Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), has become an Associate in the Public Affairs Practice at Burson Marsteller.  He’ll be handling corporate PR for a number of their private sector clients.  Before joining Burns’ office, Mackowiak worked on the Bush re-election campaign in Iowa, did presidential advance, and was a press aide at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (PF sources)

January 26, 2007

McCain's 08 Team Shows Their Rapid Response Chops

Johnmccain_2 We've lavished praise on Mitt Romney's '08 comms team for demonstrating early in this cycle their ability to beat back an attack in the new media (or "Freak Show") environment.  This past week has seen Barack Obama's team do the same thing, with MadrassaGate.

But we managed to overlook John McCain's pushback this week to the "sleeping during State of the Union" story.  David All has a nice recap that gives credit to Team McCain where credit is due.  One thing's for sure -- it's become gospel truth among campaign comms operatives that even a minor criticism must be forcefully rebutted, lest it turn into a Swift Boat scenario.  It's as if the strategic option of not responding to an attack (lest you amplify it) has been permanently shelved.

WH Deputy Comms Director Pulls Back Curtain on PR Tactics

Catherinemartin_1 WP's Dana Milbank looks at how Thursday's testimony at Scooter Libby's trial by White House Deputy Comms Director Catherine Martin (right) laid bare some of the WH's comms techniques.  Highlights:

  • "With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. 'Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday,' she said. 'Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday.'"
  • "She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators."
  • "She put 'Meet the Press' at the top of her list of 'Options' but noted that it might appear 'too defensive.' Next, she proposed 'leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags. Sit down and give to them.'
  • "For all the elaborate press management, things didn't always go according to plan. Martin described how Time wound up with an exclusive one weekend because she didn't have a phone number for anybody at Newsweek."

We'll say this: this trial has to be creating some very awkward moments among the WH staff.

January 25, 2007

Edwards' Comms Team Doing Just Fine, Thank You

Johnedwards_4 Hotline On Call tackles the "rumor" that Sen. John Edwards' '08 campaign "hasn't found a national communications director" (among other supposed challenges). In fact:

Edwards's communications team is in fighting shape. It'll be supervised by Jonathan Prince, with David Ginsberg and Jennifer Palmieri reprising their rolls as senior communications advisers.  Andrea Purse shouldering the national spokeswoman duties, and a few other familiar faces about to join the staff.

So there.

NRSC Spokesguy Moves to RNC

From Hotline On Call: Dan Ronayne (formerly of NRSC) will be deputy comms director and national press secretary at the RNC, reporting to Lisa Miller.

January 24, 2007

Lighter Blogging Ahead

As some of you know, I recently departed Dittus Communications and accepted a new position as Google's Washington, D.C. spokesman.  I start next week and couldn't be more excited.

My new position will mean some changes for Potomac Flacks.  This blog started as an outgrowth of my work at Dittus to help clients understand and participate in the blogosphere. It's developed a life and a following all its own, drawing an average of 400 visits a day.  The response from readers has been extremely gratifying, and this site has turned into something of a gathering spot for communicators all around town.

But in order to give my new job the attention it deserves, I'm going to have to cut back on time spent blogging.  For the time being at least, my hope is to post a few times a week (rather than my current pace of 3-5 new posts a day).  That will mean less dogged tracking of every new D.C. flack personnel move, but I still hope to highlight the most interesting happenings from the Washington PR world, and as always, I invite readers to help by sharing tips.

Thanks for all your great feedback so far, and for making my initial foray into the blogosphere so much fun.

About the Authors

  • FOLLOW US: @potomacflacks
  • Matt Mackowiak - Site Manager
    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

    Laura Gross - Contributor
    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.
    Follow her on Twitter: @ScottCircle

    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.
    Follow him on Twitter: @BlainR

    This is a personal group blog whose contents in no way reflect the views of any author's employer.

    Got a tip? Email Matt, Blain or Laura (anonymity guaranteed)

    Potomac Flacks Founder and Author Emeritus: Adam Kovacevich
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