NEWS BRIEFS:

DALLAS: Texas Instruments has narrowed its search for an agency to handle its US business media relations account. The five finalists are Euro RSCG Magnet, Fleishman-Hillard, Golin/Harris, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, and Waggener Edstrom. FitzGerald Communications is the incumbent agency.

HERNDON, VA: Connect PR has opened an office in the Washington, DC, area. This is the technology PR firm's third office. The others are in Provo, UT, and San Francisco.

PARSIPPANY, NJ: The Sherry Group has added several new companies to its roster of clients including LG Electronics, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Family Trusted LLC, Higher One, State Fair Meadowlands, and Hollowbrook Golf.

WASHINGTON: Westhill Partners has appointed Chrissy Gephardt as senior associate in its Washington office, Westhill Public Affairs. Gephardt was a spokeswoman for the presidential campaign of her father, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO).

WASHINGTON: Cadbury Schweppes has opened a public affairs office for its confectionery and beverage business in the Americas. Deborah Louison, formerly SVP and director of global services at APCO Worldwide, has been named VP of government affairs there.

NEW YORK: UBS has hired Weber Shandwick to oversee PR for its sailing regatta, UBS Trophy, which takes place June 18-26 in Newport, RI. Weber will also handle marketing support for a series of UBS-sponsored events leading up to the 2007 America's Cup races in Spain.

CHICAGO: Veteran Chicago journalist Chris Scott has joined Hodge Communications as a VP to head a new division called Hodge Media Group. Scott, who has worked for Reuters, UPI, Crain Communications, and Thomson, will oversee the offering of editorial services, such as newsletters and custom magazines.

NEW YORK: Senior PR professionals Carina Sayles and Alan Winnikoff have joined forces to launch Sayles & Winnikoff Communications, offering representation to a wide range of media, entertainment, and technology companies.

NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick has been awarded the launch of the Electrolux ICON line of residential kitchen appliances for Stockholm-based Electrolux Group. The agency will also take on PR duties for the company's Frigidaire brand. The firm was selected for the multimillion-dollar account after a review involving 11 agencies in the final evaluation process.

GAINESVILLE, FL: The Institute for Public Relations has elected two new trustees: William Heyman, founder, president, and CEO of Heyman Associates, and David Monfried, SVP of corporate communications for MetLife.

NEW YORK: The NewsMarket, which provides video over the internet to news media, has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Apax Partners, Hearst, Boldcap Ventures, and others.

PHILADELPHIA: Scott Franks, CEO of Tierney Communications, a member of the Interpublic Group of Companies, has assumed the role of chairman of the agency. Mary Stengel Austen has assumed the position of CEO, in addition to her responsibilities as president.

RALEIGH, NC: French/West/Vaughan has been named PR agency of record for Sapiens International Corporation N.V., a global provider of IT solutions for insurance organizations.

NEW ALBANY, OH: Marion Greenberg has been retained to assist Abercrombie & Fitch's marketing and PR practice by promoting the Abercrombie & Fitch brand, joining a team that includes Paul Wilmot Communications and the company's internal marketing and PR staff.

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