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May 28, 2008

McClellan . . .

I don't think this blog could go without commenting on the McClellan story. Most of us that read this blog have been spokespeople and most of us have been under high pressure situations, but I'm sure nothing compares to what a White House press secretary has been through - especially McClellan (Plame, Katrina, Iraq).

We have learned from all the excerpts and stories that McClellan lied when he spoke with reporters. According to excerpts that I have read online (in all fairness I have not read the book), he said he did not know he was lying and that he was just repeating what he was told by his superiors and colleagues.

I'm not questioning McClellan's decision at the time - sometimes the situation gets the best of you - the job is exhausting, constantly working on no sleep for years is awful and of course we all know that McClellan was very loyal to President Bush (at the time).

But, this leads me to two questions:

Is it a spokesperson's job to dig deeper and really get at the truth or is "out of site, out of mind" the best policy? After all, shouldn't a spokesperson just report what the facts that he/she knows?

But, at the very least does McClellan owe the American people an apology? Although he didn't know he was lying at the time, should he at least apologize for deceiving everyone?

I'll be anxious to hear more over the next few days as he starts his book tour and round of interviews.

May 27, 2008

DiMartino to BGR

David DiMartino, deputy chief of staff to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will be joining BGR Holding as part of the firm's PR shop next month. He is only the second Democrat to join BGR. Michael Meehan, a former colleague of DiMartino's, was the first Democrat at the all-Republican lobbying firm and recruited DiMartino.

DiMartino was previously a national spokesman for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign and a deputy communications director at the DSCC. (Washington Post's "In the Loop")

Flack Profile: Kimberly Hunter


It's time for another Flack Profile. This week, we are featuring Sen. Jim Webb's press secretary, Kimberly Hunter.

If you want to be profiled or know someone who should be, please e-mail us, we are always open to suggestions.

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama - The Magic City

How long have you been in your current position?: 15 months

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? In middle school, I was obsessed with being a lawyer or a clandestine CIA agent. By high school, I wanted to be doctor but was terrible at Latin so that was off the table… Then the West Wing hit the airwaves and I wanted to be CJ Craig so here I am today…

What college did you go to and what was your major? George Washington University, B.A. in Political Communication and M.A. in Political Management

What was your very first job? My first job was at 15 - ringing up vegetables at Andy’s Farmers Market and hauling 50 pound bags of soil to elderly ladies’ cars.

Where do you get your news from? The usual suspects - WaPo, NYTimes, and the Onion… And of course, I’m obsessed with Googling my boss’s name every other hour.

Daily Show or Colbert? Jon Stewart was my first satirical news show love so I’m going with Daily Show.

May 21, 2008

Linda Douglass Joins The Obama Campaign

DouglassFirst reported by Marc Ambinder, Linda Douglass, an award-winning television and print journalist who currently serves as a contributing editor to National Journal, will join Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the roadshow, a newly created position. Douglass confirmed her new position to Ambinder when he asked her about it. She informed National Journal President Suzanne Clark this morning of her impending departure. After serving as Justice Department correspondent for CBS News, DougIass moved to ABC News, where she covered Capitol Hill. A few years ago, she met Barack Obama and the two became friendly. Douglass retired from ABC News in 2006 to work on a project at New York University that was looking into how partisanship had paralyzed Congress. She joined the National Journal group as a contributing editor in 2007, writing for the magazine and hosting a weekly radio show on XM Satellite radio. Douglass declined to discuss the terms of her new job or how the offer was broached. An Obama spokesman had no comment. (Atlantic's Ambinder Blog)

May 20, 2008

Kerry Press Aide Hired by Trust for America’s Health

Liz Richardson has been hired to work on communications for the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit think tank. Richardson was Deputy Press Secretary for Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (CQ’s “People on the Move” column)

Bipartisan Policy Center Hires Former McCain Spokesperson

Bpc The Bipartisan Policy Center has hired Eileen McMenamin as their new Communications Director. McMenamin recently served three years on Capitol Hill as the Communications Director for Senator John McCain.  Prior to joining Senator McCain's office, she worked for 13 years as a political producer for CNN and ABC News, covering the 1996, 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and producing for programs such as "Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff," "Crossfire," and "Good Morning America." (PF Tipster)

Help a Reporter

Have you ever read a story and thought to yourself, "my client should have been part of that story. Why didn't I know about it?" Well, now there's a free resource for you: HelpAReporter.com. I've been subscribing to the listserv for a few months.

It's like Profnet, only free. Three times a day, the site administrator - Peter Shankman - sends out an e-mail with requests from journalists who need sources for stories. Peter also sends out updates about his PR escapades and his life adventures too (he seems to like a lot of adventure sports and appearing on O'Reilly).

Warning: this isn't for everyone - I think this is most helpful for PR firm flacks, not necessarily people on the Hill or associations. But, why not sign up and try it - after all, it's free.

Arora's Dream Team

Images3Sam Arora, is the new communications director for VoteBoth - a group dedicated to a joint Clinton and Obama ticket. Sam is a former member of Hillary Clinton's campaign press office and also used to work at the DNC.

Sam is also currently a student at Georgetown Law School. (PF Tipster and McClatchy Newspapers).

Flack Profile: Fred Baldassaro, Edelman

Image003Today we are bringing back our popular Flack Profile feature and we are kicking it off by featuring Fred Baldassaro, a vice president at Edelman. Check out our previous flack profiles here.

Hometown: Revere, Massachusetts (hometown of Kelly's Roast Beef)

How long have you been in your current position: Two years

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? President of the United States, but by the time I was in high school I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. And I haven’t succeeded at either one.

What college did you go to and what was your major? Emerson College in Boston. I majored in Mass Communication with an emphasis on broadcast journalism. It was a very intense program and got me ready for jobs in journalism and in public relations.

What was your very first job? I used to set up bingo tables at my grade school for $30 a week, but my first real job was working the cash register at McDonalds in the summer of 1990. I developed a crush on an older girl who worked there, but my abilities to work the drive-thru and operate the grill at the same time didn’t impress her.

Where do you get your news from? In the morning I watch the first 20 minutes of the Today show to make sure I’m not missing anything. At work, I check Drudge and the New York Times homepage every hour or so. I read the Boston Globe sports section every morning to keep track of my favorite Boston teams and recently set up a personalized Google page that allows me to keep track of many magazines, blogs and breaking news.

I have an RSS feed for Business Week to keep track of the latest business news that might affect my clients. I have found sites like Knowledge at Wharton and the Mavericks at Work blog to be great places to absorb new ideas and pick up trends in the business community. I also listen to podcasts to get more in-depth analysis of current events. And if I make it home in time, the nightly newscasts.

Daily Show or Colbert? I’m a big baseball fan so if I’m still up I’m watching the Sox or Baseball Tonight on ESPN at that time.

May 19, 2008

Insurance Agents Assoc. Promotes Besesparis

Ted Besesparis has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Communications for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. Besesparis joined the group in May 1995 after a career as a print and broadcast journalist. He was a national editor for Standard News, where he served on the White House press pool. Previously, he was a news editor for Tribune Media Inc. and spent 14 years as a news anchor and radio talk show host in Palm Beach, FL. (CQ’s “People on the Move” column)

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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