The Growing Field of “BR.”

Posted May 6, 2005 at 5:38pm

They outed online reporter Jeff Gannon, humbled CBS’ Dan Rather and helped compel the resignation of CNN news chief Eason Jordan. So it was only a matter of time before bloggers got their due recognition from the public relations set. [IMGCAP(1)]

The consulting firm Issue Dynamics Inc. is launching a new practice to focus exclusively on blogger relations. Call it BR.

Several firms already set up blogs for clients, or monitor existing ones, but increasingly, Washington PR firms such as IDI are pitching stories to bloggers and trying to guide their coverage.

Ken Deutsch, the firm’s executive vice president, said the practice is not as simple as translating traditional PR techniques to the blogosphere.

“You can’t approach them the same way you talk to a reporter,” he said of bloggers. “They won’t respond well to a press release. They want to find the facts themselves and decide how to position them.”

When NBC and CBS refused to air ads by the United Church of Christ welcoming gays to their denomination, the church hired IDI to manage a blog campaign.

According to Deutsch, the firm helped encourage 150 blogs to cover the issue. And the firm set up strategizing meetings between church officials and bloggers.

Chandler Howell, a managing director of Qorvis Communications, said his firm has started pitching stories to bloggers as part of its traditional media outreach efforts.

He said while pitches can be similar, firm representatives also understand that reporters and bloggers are different, so they adjust accordingly.

“When you’re doing reporter pitching, there’s got to be more steak to the sizzle,” he said. “When you’re doing blogger pitching, there’s got to be more sizzle to the steak.”

How It Goeas. As the National Federation of Independent Business’ new vice president of political, Lisa Smittcamp Goeas will coordinate the small business lobby’s candidate endorsements, grassroots mobilization and PAC donations.

Goeas comes to the job with solid small-business credentials, having served most recently as chief of staff at the Small Business Administration.

And she’s got politics in the family: Her husband, Ed Goeas, is a prominent Republican pollster.

NFIB spokesman Mike Donohue said the group rarely hires outside pollsters, so a Goeas-Goeas collaboration may not happen anytime soon.

Brand Name. Michael Brown, most recently a lobbyist with Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, has set up his own consulting firm, Brown Strategies Inc. But don’t

confuse this Brown with the Michael Brown who lobbies at Alcalde and Fay,who is the son of the late Democratic National Committee chairman and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, and who has launched a D.C. mayoral exploratory committee.

This Michael Brown has no plans to run for mayor, but did run the most recent re-election campaign of Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). He says Brown Strategies’ scope of work includes lobbying and political campaign advising.

His registered lobbying client is glass and plastic packaging manufacturer Owens-Illinois Inc. He will handle such issues as asbestos-reform legislation as well as recycling and other environmental policy matters.

“It’s great because I’m doing what I enjoy,” said Brown, who added that he often gets mistaken for the other Michael Brown, even by one-time D.C. mayor and current council member Marion Barry.

“When I was at Manatt, Marion Barry would call and leave messages for me to talk about his campaign, but wouldn’t leave me a number so I could call him back and tell him I was the wrong one,” Brown said. “But then he would keep calling me back and leave these rambling messages saying, ‘Why haven’t you called me back yet?’ I would say, ‘I can’t.’”

Foreign Agent Files. The Livingston Group has filed to represent the chief assistant to the president of Kazakhstan on a pro-bono basis.

According to the registration with the Justice Department, officials at the Livingston Group, including former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) will “introduce the principal to Members of Congress.” Most of the activities will take place this week, when the chief assistant, Karim Massimov, plans to visit Washington, D.C.

The scope of the work, the filing said, includes U.S.-Kazakh relations in the political, security and economic spheres, as well as the promotion of stability with Kazakhstan’s neighbors in the Caspian Sea and Central Asian regions. Those neighbors might include Turkey, one of the Livingston Group’s paying clients.

In addition to Livingston, the firm’s other lobbyist working as a volunteer for this client is David Lonie, once a foreign policy adviser for the House Rules Committee. A spokesman for the Livingston Group could not be reached for comment.

Branching Out. The Loeffler Group is welcoming some new clients into the fold, including Toyota, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Teaching Strategies and Patton Medical Devices.

K Street Moves. Kathryn Lehman, chief of staff for the House Republican Conference, is joining Holland and Knight. … David Vance, formerly a director at the Harbour Group, has recently joined the International Dairy Foods Association’s legislative group as director of public affairs.