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February 28, 2011

JOB OF THE WEEK #2: Democratic Senator, Press Assistant

Now Hiring Centrist Senate Democrat seeks Press Assistant.  Duties include daily media monitoring, drafting and editing advisories and releases, being the point of first-contact for reporters, setting up interviews, pitching media events and maintaining media contact lists.  You need to be able to schmooze with reporters, perform under deadline pressure, and not be concerned with selling yourself to a senator.  You have to pay attention to detail, be able to multitask and always be discrete.

TO APPLY: E-mail cover letter, resume, and three writing samples to [email protected] by March 2nd. Please put “press assistant” in the subject line.  (Senate Employment Bulletin)

JOB OF THE WEEK: GolinHarris, Senior AE, Health Care Public Affairs

GolinHarris logo The Washington, DC office of GolinHarris, an international PR firm, is seeking a Senior Account Executive for their Public Affairs team to manage media relations, stakeholder engagement and external outreach programs for key health care clients. The senior account executive will play a major role in the research, planning and execution of communications activities to support and advance client public policy and public affairs agendas. The senior account executive will independently manage client projects involving multiple deliverables on deadline, execute work with minimal supervision, and support new business efforts. This person will also have responsibility for media relations and event support and will supervise junior staff.

Job Requirements

3 to 5+ years of communications experience, preferably in an agency environment. Ideal candidates will have experience in healthcare with emphasis on policy, research, insurance and/or medical devices. Qualified candidates must have exceptional communication (both written and verbal) and interpersonal skills and be able to multi-task efficiently and quickly. S/he must be able to work effectively with clients and colleagues. Successful candidates will be familiar with digital and social media platforms and networks, and possess detailed knowledge of and relationships with healthcare media outlets from key trade publications to national print reporters. This position requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

TO APPLY: Interested applicants should e-mail a resume with salary expectations to [email protected] referencing SAEPADC in the e-mail subject line.

GolinHarris is an Equal Opportunity Employer. EEO/AA.M/F/D/V.  (PF tipster)

Sen. McConnell Announces Changes to Communications Staff

Sen. McConnell Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently announced several changes to his leadership communications team, including the hiring of a new communications director and the promotions of veteran staff members.

Michael Brumas was named Communications Director; John Ashbrook was recently elevated to Staff Director of the Senate Republican Communications Center; and Brian McGuire was promoted to Deputy Communications Director and Director of Speechwriting.  Don Stewart, Sen. McConnell's Communications Director since 2006, will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.

Brumas has more than a decade of experience as a top Senate aide.  He served previously as Chief of Staff for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Communications Director for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and most recently as Communications Director for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).  In 2000, Brumas came to the Senate after a journalism career that included working as a Washington correspondent for a newspaper and several news services.  In his new post, he will be the daily press contact on leadership matters.

Ashbrook was promoted to Staff Director for the Senate Republican Communications Center.  He joined the operation when it was created in 2007 and most recently served as Press Secretary; he will continue to serve as a spokesman.  Ashbrook began his career working for Reps. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) before moving to the staff of the House Republican Conference.  Ashbrook is a native of Cincinnati.

McGuire has been with Sen. McConnell's leadership office since January 2007. He previously worked as a reporter and columnist covering business and politics and as a lead speechwriter at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  A native of Upstate New York, McGuire assists in the development of strategic messaging and oversees all speechwriting and related efforts.

Stewart, who helped create the Republican Communications Center, oversees all aspects of the Leader's communications efforts.  He previously served as Communications Director for Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Press Secretary for Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Regional Director for Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA).

The communications staff will continue to work closely with their colleagues in Leader McConnell's personal office, where Communications Director Robert Steurer manages the Kentucky press operations.  A McConnell veteran and Kentucky native, Steurer leads a team that is responsible for all public outreach efforts in the Bluegrass State, including television, print, radio and new media. Deputy Communications Director Pam Simpson, also a Kentucky native, will soon join the office. She currently serves as Deputy Press Secretary for Sen. Shelby.  (PF tipster)

February 24, 2011

BREAKING: Sean Spicer to be RNC Communications Director

Sean Spicer 2 First reported by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, Sean Spicer will be named Communications Director at the Republican National Committee, according to two informed sources, the latest senior staff addition under new chairman Reince Priebus.

Spicer has a deep resume in Republican politics. He spent three years as the spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office in the latter half of the Bush presidency and prior to that was the Communications Director for the House Republican Conference.  He’s also served on the Hill as Communications Director for the House Budget Committee and the House Government Reform Committee.  Spicer spent the 2000 election cycle as the Director of Incumbent Retention at the National Republican Congressional Committee. Spicer is currently a partner at Endeavor Global Strategies, a full service, global public relations and strategy firm. 

Sean Spicer Since July 2009, Spicer has been mobilized in the Navy to serve as Chief, Plans and Policy (J-5) at a joint criminal investigation task force consisting of attorneys, analysts and special agents from the Army's CID, Navy's NCIS, and the Air Force's OSI. 

Spicer is a 2012 graduate of the Naval War College and a 1993 graduate of Connecticut College.  He is from Barrington, RI.  (Washington Post)

JOB OF THE WEEK: Animal Health Institute, Communications Manager

AHI logo Organization: Animal Health Institute

Position:  Communications Manager

Reports to:  Vice President, Legislative & Public Affairs 


General description:  Responsible for building and maintaining relationships with media and maintaining on-line and social media channels 


  1. Develop proactive media relations program, identifying and cultivating reporters to position AHI as a trusted source on animal health issues.
  2. Work with staff and members to develop and pitch story ideas.
  3. Write, edit and post text and multi-media content to the association’s websites.
  4. Work with staff members to maintain and update association’s internal web site.
  5. Develop ideas and content and regularly update social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter platforms.
  6. Execute timely and accurate completion of editorial services, including AHI Update (weekly) and AHI Annual Report.
  7. Perform daily media monitoring for news of interest to association members; supervise compilation of appropriate news clippings.
  8. Assist VP, legislative & public affairs in other public affairs duties including media response, news releases and collateral publications.
  9. Draft letters, briefing papers and issues papers as necessary for use in public affairs activities. 

Knowledge and skills:        

  1. Excellent and demonstrable writing, proofreading and editing skills.
  2. Strong experience and understanding of social media.
  3. Knowledge of website design and content management.
  4. Ability to work independently.
  5. Ability to project positive image of AHI and maintain professional standards.
  6. Good interpersonal skills.
  7. Familiarity with WordPress and Photoshop a plus. 

TO APPLY: For consideration, please submit resume in confidence to Ron Phillips ([email protected]).

DEADLINE:  Friday, March 4, 2011 (PF tipster) 


February 23, 2011

GOP Flack Sollberger Leaves House Small Biz Committee for House Ed & Workforce

Alexandra Haynes Sollberger has left the House Small Business Committee, where she served Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) as Communications Director for the same position with the House Education and Workforce Committee under Chairman John Kline (R-MN). 

As of February 28, Darrell “DJ” Jordan will take over as Communications Director for the House Small Business Committee. 

Prior to working for the House Small Business Committee, Sollberger served for two years as Communications Director for Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY). 

Sollberger is a 2006 graduate of Lake Forrest College (BA in International Relations and Spanish) and a 2007 graduate of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce (MA in Diplomacy).  (PF tipster)

February 22, 2011

CAREER DEVELOPMENT: Navigating Careers on Capitol Hill (Wed., Feb. 23, 2011, 6:30pm)

Foreign Policy InitiativeFind answers to the age-old question: how do I find a job on Capitol Hill?

Excellent young professionals event Wednesday night, held by the Foreign Policy Initiative:

Navigating Careers on Capitol Hill

Wednesday, February 23rd

Networking Reception - 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Panel Discussion and Q&A - 7:30 – 8:30 pm
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW)
Click here to RSVP.  For more information, contact Randan Swindler (202) 296-3322 or [email protected].

Moderator: Rachel Hoff, Director of External Affairs, Foreign Policy Initaitive


  Tim Morrison, National Security Policy Advisor, Senator John Kyl (R-AZ)

  Roger Zakheim, Deputy Staff Director, House Committee on Armed Services

  Additional panelist TBD

February 21, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: The Untidy Truth (by John Del Cato)

The Untidy Truth

By John Del Cecato

** This column was first published in The Hill newspaper.

John Del Cato As I interviewed for my first job as a Capitol Hill press secretary, a seasoned Washington staffer hit me with a question that caught me off guard.

“Give me an example of when it might be OK to lie to the press,” she said.

“Never,” I quickly replied. 

For a moment, my mind raced. What if a nosy reporter asked a very personal question that could damage the congressman’s reputation? What about denying a charge that could cost us the next election? 

“That’s the right answer,” she confirmed. “Eventually, you get caught.”

She was right. And as I learned the ropes of handling media inquiries, I tried to remember that rule. Did I answer every reporter’s question in clear and unequivocal terms? Not by a long shot. I became skilled at offering responses like, “I’ve got nothing for you on that,” or, “Our statement speaks for itself.” 

Those slippery non-answers can drive reporters nuts. Veteran Iowa newsman David Yepsen once needled me with a riddle. How many press secretaries does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: I’ll have to get back to you on that.

As I read about Rep. Chris Lee’s (R-NY) sudden resignation, I focused less on the accusations of attempted infidelity and more on the early efforts at damage control. According to Gawker.com, which published flirty e-mails allegedly sent from the lawmaker’s personal account, “Lee’s spokesman eventually announced that the congressman believed he’d been hacked.”

When Lee announced a few hours later that he was stepping down amid “profound mistakes,” it became clear that the “hacker defense” was a lie.

Now, it could be that Lee’s press secretary isn’t guilty of lying to Gawker. Perhaps the congressman misled his aide, and the flack was simply transmitting what he believed was the truth.

But it raises an important question about the role of a congressional press secretary. As a federal employee, your paycheck is funded by taxpayers — not the politician for whom you work. Your “boss” isn’t simply the elected official whose name is on the door, but also the public — and the reporters who ask questions on the public’s behalf. 

It’s true that Gawker is a gossip website, and not the local newspaper read by most of Lee’s constituents in upstate New York. But when a media outlet asks questions, press secretaries shouldn’t view themselves as celebrity publicists, whose primary responsibility is to manage the reputations of their clients. 

Even good private-sector publicists know that lying to reporters destroys one of their most critical resources — their own credibility as a spokesman. Just ask Charlie Sheen’s flack, who shamelessly attributed the troubled actor’s chemically induced rampage at the Plaza Hotel to an “allergic reaction to medication.”

Scandalous behavior by politicians is nothing new. But the media’s scrutiny of elected officials’ attempts at damage control has spiked in an era when a “wide stance” in a public rest room, or a mysterious hike along the Appalachian Trail, generates ridicule rather than resolution.

When will flacks learn that the untidy truth is the smarter long-term strategy?

I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Del Cecato is a partner at AKPD Message and Media, the political consulting firm founded by David Axelrod in 1985. He served as media adviser and admaker for Obama for America and Obama-Biden 2008.

Experienced Hill Flack Brachman Goes from House Approps to House Democratic Caucus

Ellis Brachman First reported in Politico’s “The Huddle” column, Ellis Brachman, formerly Communications Director for the House Appropriations Committee under Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), has landed a job as Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus under Chairman Rep. John Larson (D-CT).  Brachman has spent the last ten years on Capitol Hill having served as Press Secretary for Reps. Max Sandlin (D-TX), Rodney Alexander (D-LA), Ron Chapman for Congress (D-TX), and Press Assistant for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  (Politico’s “The Huddle” column)


February 18, 2011

JOB OF THE WEEK: Partnership for a Healthier America, Head of Communications and Marketing

PHA logo The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) seeks a Head of Communications and Marketing based in Washington, DC.  PHA is a nonprofit, independent organization that serves as a partner to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative by linking and mobilizing the private sector, foundations, thought leaders, media, and local communities to action and further the goals of curbing childhood obesity within a generation.   The First Lady announced the establishment of PHA during a 2010 White House event and serves as the organization’s Honorary Chair.  Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Newark Mayor Cory Booker serve as Honorary Vice Chairs.

Reporting to the CEO, and serving as an integral member of the senior management team, the Head of Communications and Marketing will be responsible for the development of PHA’s communication and marketing strategy. This individual will develop a communications plan for PHA, directly managing communications activities that promote, enhance, and protect the organization’s brand reputation. This individual will be responsible for the development, integration, and implementation of a broad range of public relations activities relative to the strategic direction and positioning of the organization and its leadership. 

A key goal is to advance the organization’s position with relevant constituents, as well as to drive broader awareness and interest in the organization and the cause of solving the childhood obesity problem within a generation. This individual will be responsible for PHA’s varied and integrated communications products and services including: all print publications; web, e-news, social networking and other online communications; media and public relations; and marketing. 


·      Develop and implement an integrated strategic communications plan to advance PHA’s brand identity; broaden awareness of its programs and priorities; increase the visibility of its programs across key stakeholder audiences; and enhance meaningful relationships with targeted, high-level external audiences, including the media and key influencers

Identify challenges and emerging issues faced by a new and growing organization

·      Work with leadership team and staff to recognize internal and external communications opportunities and solutions, and define and execute appropriate strategies to support them

·      Oversee development of all PHA’s print communications including the annual report, marketing collateral materials and electronic communications including PHA’s website and new media; manage relationships with associated vendors

·      Serve as a spokesperson and lead point person on media interactions that help promote and/or impact the organization

·      Exercise judgment to prioritize media opportunities, and prepare talking points, speeches, presentations and other supporting material as needed

·      Actively engage, cultivate, and manage press relationships to ensure coverage surrounding PHA’s programs, special events, public announcements, and other projects

·      Recruit and manage a communications team and outside consultants to support the development and execution of the communications strategy

·      Promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality

·      Mentor and develop staff using a supportive and collaborative approach on a consistent basis

·      Establish and monitor staff performance and development goals, assign accountabilities, set objectives, establish priorities, conduct annual performance appraisals, and administer salary adjustments

·      Bachelor’s degree is required, an advanced degree is preferred

Minimum 10 years strategic communications experience in a senior management role, either in-house or with an agency

·      Demonstrated skill and comfort in proactively building relationships with top tier reporters and editors and successfully positioning subject matter with the media to achieve high-impact placements

·      Demonstrated ability to develop a brand for a new organization

·      Demonstrated experience and leadership in managing a comprehensive strategic communications, media relations, and marketing program to advance an organization’s mission and goals

·      Extensive writing and editing experience (externally focused) with a variety of print and online communications media

·      Creative and thoughtful on how new media technologies can be utilized

·      Innovative thinker, with a track record for translating strategic thinking into action plans and output

·      Experience in building, mentoring, and coaching a team of communications specialists

·      Excellent judgment and creative problem solving skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution skills

·      Superior management skills; ability to influence and engage direct and indirect reports and peers

·      Stature, gravitas, and confidence to gain the credibility and respect within and outside the organization

·      Self reliant, good problem solver, results oriented

·      Ability to make decisions in a changing environment and anticipate future needs

·      Excellent and persuasive communicator

·      Exceptional written, oral, interpersonal and presentation skills and the ability to effectively interface with senior management, PHA’s Board of Directors and staff

·      Ability to operate as an effective tactical as well as strategic thinker

·      Passion for PHA’s mission of solving the childhood obesity crisis in a generation

How To Apply: To apply for this position, please send a resume, cover letter and five-year salary history to [email protected] with “Head of Communications and Marketing” in the title.  We regret we can only contact selected applicants.  PHA offers competitive compensation and benefits.  Equal Opportunity Employer.   (PF tipster)

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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

    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.
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