August 09, 2012

Flack Jordan Throws out First Pitch at Orioles Game

O's 1st pitchDarrell “DJ” Jordan, Communications Director for the House Small Business Committee (majority staff), threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Mariners-Orioles game on August 7 as part of KidsPeace Night, with 150 youth taking part in the OriolesREACH game day experience.

Jordan was chosen by the adoption/foster care charity, KidsPeace, that he works with as a foster parent.

KidsPeace is an organization dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, preadolescents, teens and young adults, offering a comprehensive range of residential treatment programs; accredited educational services; and a variety of foster care and community-based programs to give hope, help and healing to children, families and communities.  (PF tipster)

May 18, 2012

TOUGH JOB: Communications Director, DC Councilman Marion Barry

Marion BarryWashington, DC Councilman Marion Barry is looking for a communications director. The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse looks at what interested candidates might expect through interviews with Barry’s former press secretaries. Their advice includes:

- “You have to be high energy,” says Linda Wharton Boyd, who was Mayor Barry’s communications director from 1997-1999. “There’s never a dull moment. . . . You have to hit the ground flying.”

- Make sure you’re a step ahead of him,” says Andre Johnson, a former Barry communications director. “He has a memory like a photo. Never promise him something and then forget to do it. Because he will not forget.  And he will haunt you.”

- Raymone Bain served as Barry’s press secretary in the mid-1990s and went on to represent many celebrities, including Michael Jackson.  She says Barry always appreciated her willingness to speak her mind.  “It was either Mrs. Barry or I who was saying, ‘You can’t say that; this is not the way to say that,’ ” Bain says.  Barry’s fourth wife, Cora, was his communications director.  Bain recalls one event where members of the community were airing their grievances, and he breezily responded, “Oh, well. People in hell want ice water, too.”  “I thought,” she says, “I would die.”  (Washington Post)

June 26, 2011

CASE STUDY: Politico on Doug Heye's Unique, But Effective Communication Tactic

Doug Heye Politico’s Patrick Gavin (@PWGavin) writes for Politico on Republican strategist and former RNC Communications Director Doug Heye, specifically on his unique use of pop culture references in his on air and written political analysis.

Read the full piece here.

Heye also often refers to his home state of North Carolina, in addition to common references to Frank Sinatra, wrestler Ric Flair, classic film The Godfather and other real life anecdotes.

It’s a good lesson for all flacks on both sides of the aisle – middle America easily gets lost in our Beltway vocabularies.  (Politico)

January 18, 2011

NYT Reports on Early Morning Media Monitoring and Political War Rooms

NYT The New York Times recently detailed the lengths to which some of the hardest working flacks in Washington, D.C. will go to get the news they need to do their jobs.  To move up in Washington, many recent college graduates begin in jobs like these.  The story is a great reminder that the Beltway is fueled by the energy, passion and ambition of twenty-somethings.  (PF tipster)

May 18, 2009

Flack Profile: Emily Hellewell

Img_0333_0 Emily Hellewell is the communications manager at the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association. She is from Salem, Ore., and moved to D.C. about six years ago to be an intern at National Public Radio (NPR). That internship turned into full-time job at NPR and she's been in D.C. ever since.

Name and job title: Emily Hellewell, Communications Manager, Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association

Hometown: Salem, Oregon

How long have you been in your current position? 14 months

What's the best part of your job? I get to work with people who are on vacation. Plus, I also get to go to all the nice restaurants in Alexandria. On really great days I get to ride on a boat.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? A physical therapist

What college did you go to and what was your major? Brigham Young University. Communications major with PR emphasis.

What was your very first job? After babysitting, a short-lived paper route, a couple of summers as a receptionist, my first real job was in the PR department at NPR.

Where do you get your news from? New York Times, NPR, Slate, Washington Post, DCist, Google News Alerts. RSS feeds to an assortment of travel industry sites and blogs.

Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? Why? Its a toss up. I've re-connected with good people though Facebook, but I'm curious to see how Twitter plays out.

Do you know someone who would make a great profile on Potomac Flacks? If so, please send me a quick e-mail and tell me all about the person. 

October 14, 2008

Flack Profile: Duncan Burns


Duncan Burns is the head of the technology department at Hill & Knowlton. He manages a team of seven and works on a range of clients including Qualcomm and eBay.

Name and job title: Duncan Burns, Senior Vice President and Head of Hill & Knowlton's DC Technology Practice

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

How long have you been in your current position? 8 yrs with H&K, 2 yrs in DC and 6 weeks as Head of Tech

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? A diplomat like my father or a rugby player for Scotland. Ideally both.

What college did you go to and what was your major? I went to the University of Essex in the UK for a degree in American Studies, including a fascinating year abroad at UC Berkeley. I also have a Masters in American Politics from the University of Essex.

What was your very first job? An enthusiastic but erratic summer caddy on a small golf course in New Hampshire, but I did earn enough to buy a set of starter clubs. Now I'm an enthusiastic and erratic golfer! My first proper job was for the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong - an amazing city to work in. I went back in July for the first time in 8 years and was astounded at the changes but also at how vibrant and innovative a city it still is.

Where do you get your news from? Washington Post, Financial Times, NY Times, Wall Street Journal and the BBC website. I've then got RSS feeds for about 40 different tech, business, energy and sport sites. Two technology sites I've been reading a lot are the Wall Street Journal's Business Technology blog and our own Washington Post's tech blogs. Two non-tech I'd definitely recommend - Chris Cooley's blog and the Freakonomics blog at the Times.

IPhone or Blackberry? Blackberry for the moment, but there's so much cool stuff coming in wireless that it may be different in 6 months.

September 22, 2008

Flack Profile: Stan Collender, Managing Director at Qorvis Communications

Collender_s_2Stan Collender is a Managing Director at Qorvis Communications and writes a weekly column for  He also helped start a blog earlier this year that is definitely worth checking out.

Hometown? McLean, VA; originally Brooklyn, NY

How long have you been in your current position? 2.5 years

First read in the morning? Washington

First watch in the morning? CNBC

Did you vacation in August? If so, where? Hiking in Yosemite National Park, where there's no Blackberry or cell reception.

Best thing about working at a PR Firm? The people.

Worst thing about working at a PR Firm? It never stops.

Greed is good? Your views on communicating during this economic crisis? You can't wait for a crisis to occur to start communicating. If you do, you end up being defined by the crisis and don't have the credibility you need to deal with it.

July 01, 2008

Flack Profile 2: Chris Paulitz, Senior Advisor and Communications Director for Sen. Voinovich

Cp_2 Chris Paulitz is the Senior Advisor and Communications Director for Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)

Hometown: Hubbard, Ohio.

How long have you been in your current position? A little over two years (almost a personal record).

First read in the morning? The Drudge Report.

Best thing about working for a Senator from Ohio? Knowing that your hard work is not just helping the nation, but your friends and family in your home state (that and the dream of one day having Jerry Springer as a general election opponent).

Reporters: Friend or Foe?  Friends -- The day Republicans stop complaining about the “liberal media” is the day we start down the path of truly talking with Americans and taking back our majority.

On the record, on background, or off the record? I often talk so much I can’t remember by the end of the conversation. Just kidding (that was off the record).

What's your single best tip for aspiring flacks? Don’t settle for getting involved at the end of the process once a product is already finished – be at the table from conception to creation to approval. Strong communicators are not just here to clean up a mess or promote someone else’s idea – we know what sells and what doesn’t and should be at the table from start to finish.

June 30, 2008

Flack Profile: Bill Kiniry, Roll Call

Bill_kiniry_pfBill Kiniry is the Marketing Director for Roll Call Inc.

Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut, but now DC is my hometown.

How long have you been in your current position? 5 months.

Last movie you saw in the theatre? La Tourneuse de Pages — not good.

Is any press good press? Not in Washington.

What’s the best thing about working at Roll Call? I was attracted to Roll Call because of its tradition as the newspaper of Capitol Hill, but I came to work here because of the exciting direction of the company. We just launched a new website ( with a multimedia focus and we launched Roll Call TV earlier this year. Roll Call also owns GalleryWatch, our legislative tracking service and CongressNow, our legislative wire service. These products are growing fast and provide a valuable service to the Capitol Hill community.

Also, Roll Call is owned by The Economist, not many people are aware of that. To be part of The Economist Group says a lot about Roll Call’s pedigree. It’s a very savvy company and I’m glad to be here.

Do people still talk about Paul Kane around the water cooler? I don’t know Paul personally, but he is still held in high regard around the Roll Call water cooler as are many of our esteemed alums like Chris Cillizza, Ed Henry and the many other exceptional journalists who cut their teeth at Roll Call.

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

June 05, 2008

Flack Profile: Emily Lenzner, ABC News


Emily Lenzner is ABC News Executive Director, Communications. Emily has also spent time in the NPR communications division and also worked on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Hometown: Washington, DC (born and raised)

How long have you been in your current position? 3 years (with a year break)

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up? Actress and singer

What college did you go to and what was your major? Vassar College, English.

What was your very first job? My very first was scooping ice cream at the Sweet Shoppe on Nantucket when I was 14. First "real" post college job was working for the photo desk at the Washington Post. I was technically a photo lab tech and spent most of my time in the dark room (this was pre digital) -- I occasionally got out on assignment.

Where do you get your news from? ABC News and of course as well as the New York Times, Wash Post, NPR, Roll Call, Newsweek, The Economist, Drudge and TV Newser.

IPhone or Blackberry? Blackberry, but I aspire to the iPhone.

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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