NEWS BRIEFS

SAN FRANCISCO: Ruder Finn/Switzer has launched a consumer practice, and has promoted Kristin Greene to SVP to oversee the new practice. While the tech-centric San Francisco office works with consumer clients including Lego, it has not had a dedicated practice for consumer clients in markets outside of technology.

SAN FRANCISCO: Ruder Finn/Switzer has launched a consumer practice, and has promoted Kristin Greene to SVP to oversee the new practice. While the tech-centric San Francisco office works with consumer clients including Lego, it has not had a dedicated practice for consumer clients in markets outside of technology.

ST. LOUIS, MO: O'Connor & Partners has been named Manning Selvage & Lee's network affiliate for St. Louis and downstate Illinois.

NEW YORK: Former Gavin Anderson director Samantha Taylor has joined Financial Dynamics as an SVP in its corporate communications practice. Additionally, Andy Maas, hired as VP in March 2003, has been promoted to SVP at FD. Full story at prweek.com.

PITTSBURGH: United States Steel Corporation has appointed Charles L. Rice to the position of GM of public affairs. He most recently served as director of public affairs and corporate communications for Marathon Ashland Petroleum.

DALLAS and AUSTIN: GCI Group's technology practice has added Troux Technologies to its client roster. GCI's Austin office will manage the account for the company, which develops IT management software and services. Also joining the technology practice in Austin is Lynne Skinner as a SVP, and Michelle Doss as a VP in Dallas. Skinner joins GCI from Austin Ventures, and Doss comes from Edelman's Dallas office.

GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE, FL: The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has appointed Jessica Taylor as PR manager. Taylor will drive the implementation of the bureau's communications strategy.

NEW YORK: Brunswick Group, an international communications consultancy firm, has hired Melissa Daly, former VP and communications director for Fred Alger Management, as senior associate partner.

LAS VEGAS: Caesars Entertainment has selected Fremont, CA-based Maita-Saviano PR to handle communications and public relations services for its technology initiatives.

SAN JOSE, CA: PRx has appointed Elisabeth Handler as SVP. Handler was most recently an independent practitioner specializing in healthcare, serving clients such as PacifiCare Behavioral Health, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, and The Heart Fund of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

WASHINGTON, DC: Opti-Fi Networks has selected Lewis PR to run the company's media relations program. The Annapolis, MD-based company delivers public "Wi-Fi" services to airports.

NEW YORK: Dan Klores Communications has been retained by several new clients: Megu, a Japanese restaurant located in New York's Tribeca; Microsulis, specializing in Microwave Endometrial Ablation; and Miramax Books, to promote the release of Yao Ming's upcoming memoir entitled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.

PALO ALTO, CA: TNS Prognostics has selected Golin Harris' San Francisco office for PR services. TNS Prognostics combines customer satisfaction research and consulting services for the IT industry.

MONROVIA, CA; Next Estate Communications has picked Edelman's San Francisco office for PR services. Next Estate is the largest provider of prepaid debit cards, with more than 90% market share.

BOSTON: Ashton Partners, a Chicago IR and corporate communications firm, has appointed Karen Oeser to VP. Most recently, she co-founded Ripple Effect Communications.

OVERLAND PARK, KS: Wally Meyer has joined Corporate Communications Group as SVP. Most recently, he was president of several smaller companies in the information technology, plastics manufacturing, and market-research businesses.

SEATTLE: Greg Witter has launched a strategic communications consulting firm called The Witter Group, which will offer a full range of services, with particular emphasis on crisis communications, labor relations, employee communications, media training, and marketing communications. Most recently he served as managing director of corporate and strategic communications for Alaska Airlines.

HONOLULU: Marketing executive David Sayre has opened Sayre Public Relations, a full-service PR firm, where he will serve as president. Clients include College Goal Sunday, Clear Channel Hawaii, Honolulu Liquor Commission, and Papa John's Hawaii.

BOSTON: David A. Ball, a former hospital industry public affairs executive and state health and human services official in Massachusetts, has opened his own public affairs and health care consulting firm, the Ball Consulting Group.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Online photo sharing service smugmug has picked Best PR for PR services.

WALTHAM, MA: Racepoint Group has added several companies to its roster of technology and health-care clients: Context Web, Cook Inc., Formation Systems, iKnowtion, Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, and Third Screen Media.

SAN FRANCISCO: Singer Associates has signed several new clients, include energy company Calpine. Singer will focus on public affairs issues in California for Calpine. Other new clients include real estate firm Group 15; Citizens to Save Point Molate, which is working to preserve a section of Bay Area shoreline from Indian casino development; and Yes on Measure Q, a real estate development measure in Redwood City, CA.

SAN FRANCISCO: Sparkpr has signed several new clients, including Mozilla, which develops web browser and e-mail applications. Other new clients include fuel cell company MTI Micro, travel website Mobissimo, and mobile software company Orative.

SAN FRANCISCO: Access Communications has signed several new clients, including being named agency of record for Mental Images, which develops 3-D software used in architecture, design, and movies, including "The Matrix: Reloaded" and "The Hulk." Other new clients include Accelrys, Airframe Business Software, and Orbital Data.

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