Magnet's Washington office enters public affairs arena

WASHINGTON: Euro RSCG Magnet will launch a global public affairs practice based in its Washington office beginning January 1.

WASHINGTON: Euro RSCG Magnet will launch a global public affairs practice based in its Washington office beginning January 1.

Michael Smith has joined the agency as EVP and GM of the DC office and will head the new practice. Smith will start with the agency on December 1.

While Magnet has done public affairs work in the past, "We're going to try and shape a new practice area, to grow and formalize it as an offering," said Smith. Previous issues handled by the firm include music licensing for client Sharman Networks, which owns the controversial peer-to-peer file-sharing website Kazaa.com.

The public affairs practice will begin with three to four employees and a registered lobbyist, said Smith.

The formal move into public affairs represents the latest evolution for Magnet, which came into existence in April, when parent Havas merged Magnet with sister firm Euro RSCG Middleberg.

Smith joins Magnet from a Virginia firm he partially owned, White & Partners. He's selling his interests back to that firm while taking two tech clients from there to his new post at Magnet. Smith was a VP for tech PR with Edelman from 1998 through 2000 and was based in its Washington office. He expects to expand both the public affairs and tech practices with Magnet. "I have good tech-related contacts, as well as government-relations contacts," he said.

Smith was recruited to Magnet by Aaron Kwittken, who moved up from COO to CEO in October, when former CEO David Kratz left the firm.

Magnet's Washington office works with such clients as IBM, Northrop Grumman, the Department of the Treasury, and McDonald's.

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