DC tech and public affairs shops merge in response to rising trend

WASHINGTON: Technology shop Infotech Strategies and Mindbeam, a small public affairs shop led by a former top advisor to Al Gore, have merged, creating a new force in the growing nexus between public policy and technology.

WASHINGTON: Technology shop Infotech Strategies and Mindbeam, a small public affairs shop led by a former top advisor to Al Gore, have merged, creating a new force in the growing nexus between public policy and technology.

Mindbeam, also known as Simon Strategies, is headed by Greg Simon, who served as chief domestic policy advisor to Vice President Gore from 1993 to 1997. His partner, Kristan Van Hook, is a former director of legislative affairs within the Commerce Department, and a form- er House Commerce Committee staffer. They formed Simon Strategies in 1997, focusing on "public policy and strategic policy development for business, telecom, and biotech" clients.

Infotech, also formed in 1997, concentrates on mainstream PR services for hi-tech clients. The merger, according to principal John Raffetto, will help those clients better market their services to the government.

"In this market, (our clients) see the government becoming a more critical part of their business," he said. "As their PR firm, they look to us for assistance and advice on how they should interface with government policymakers. With this team on board, we can address those needs from under one roof."

The newly formed entity, consisting of about 25 employees (the lion's share of which come from Infotech), boasts bipartisan credentials. Prior to joining Infotech, Raffetto served as a Republican lobbyist at Podesta Associates, and as communications director for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Clients include Motorola, the Internet Content Rating Association, Gemstar, and the Catholic Television Network.

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