PR cuts likely as iVillage takes over rival

NEW YORK: iVillage's announcement that it had inked a deal to

acquire Silicon Valley rival Women.com is likely to result in a handful

of departures from the companies' PR and IR ranks, and has already cost

one PR agency a healthy retainer.



The casualty is Women.com's PR firm of record, Ruder Finn. In early

January - just one month before the iVillage announcement hit the street

- Women.com and Ruder Finn's San Francisco office terminated their

retainer-based relationship. While the agency still handles some

Women.com PR work 'on a project basis,' it has lost a retainer that

sources estimate is between $240,000 and $360,000

annually.



However, representatives from both iVillage and Women.com emphasized

that no immediate layoffs were anticipated as a result of the merger,

despite the inevitable duplication of roles as the bi-coastal companies

consolidate.



Women.com has five people handling communications in-house - including

two in San Mateo, CA, and two in New York. iVillage has about the same

number, including former Abernathy MacGregor account head Carl Fischer,

who recently joined to replace Jason Stell as corporate communications

VP, and director of consumer media relations Winnie Atterbury.



According to Fischer, iVillage will continue to use Abernathy for

business press and IR and Kaplow Communications for consumer PR after

the merger.



For Ruder Finn's San Francisco office, the loss of Women.com puts a

major dent in its once-thriving consumer practice.



While the 2-year-old branch represents such high-profile and profitable

tech clients as Ricoh and Seagate Technologies, the consumer group has

been heavily weighted with ailing dot-coms, including Grassroots and

Asimba.



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