Birney becomes president/CEO of Blanc & Otus

SAN FRANCISCO: Jonelle Birney, former vice president of public relations at MCI/ WorldCom, has taken on the role of president and CEO of Blanc & Otus Public Relations, an independent high-tech agency.

SAN FRANCISCO: Jonelle Birney, former vice president of public relations at MCI/ WorldCom, has taken on the role of president and CEO of Blanc & Otus Public Relations, an independent high-tech agency.

She is charged with expanding the agency internationally and pulling in new non-tech clients.

She assumes the responsibilities of company co-founders Maureen Blanc and Simone Otus, who stepped down as president and CEO, respectively, to become co-chairmen of the agency.

They will continue their involvement with existing clients, while Birney will focus on growing the business by adding new services such as corporate positioning, investor relations, and public policy. The company is also looking at international expansion.

'I plan to build on the legacy of Blanc & Otus as a premier high-tech agency by bringing more services to existing clients and by looking at a different kind of client,' said Birney. 'For example, a shoe company may need to know how to approach the Internet space, so we're looking at mainstream companies that have not historically been part of the 'hi-tech' world.'

In the past, the company's focus has been on start-ups and emerging clients in the software industry.

Birney served as vice president of public relations at MCI for the past three-and-a-half years, where she was a client of Blanc & Otus. Previously, she spent nearly 10 years at Fleischman-Hillard, Inc., most recently serving as senior vice president and partner.

Blanc & Otus was founded in 1985. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, Cambridge, MA, and Mountain View, CA. The company employs a workforce of approximately 75 people.

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