WASHINGTON DC: Mike McCurry's is setting up a Washington office for Public Strategies, PRWeek can confirm - and the Austin-based public affairs company has also signed up Bob Bullock, the 69 year old fixture of Texas politics, as senior advisor.
But the real talking point right now is McCurry. He will be managing partner of a joint venture firm with Jack Martin's Public Strategies Inc (PSI) and Public Strategies Washington (PSW), a separate company owned by Joe O'Neill.
The new venture, called Public Strategies Group, will have a small staff to begin with, and will operate from O'Neill's Washington office. McCurry will start in January. Staff will be assigned from both sides on a project-by-project basis.
The joint venture, in which each partner will have a 33.3% stake, unites three old buddies from the office of Senator Lloyd Bentsen. In 1988 Joe was manager for Bentsen's vice-presidential campaign, while McCurry was press secretary. Martin was chairman for Bentsen's campaign for re-election as a Texas senator.
The deal also finally unites Martin and O'Neill, who have been promising to work together for many years now. Martin set up Public Strategies in 1988, and when O'Neill set up a lobbying company in 1991, it was always assumed that they would join forces at some stage. But although they shared many clients, including South West Airlines, a formal deal never crystallized.
'We had given some thought to someday putting the two entities together,' said Martin, president of PSI, 'but elected not to, as (O'Neill) was focusing on building a governmental affairs consulting group, and I was in Texas running a public affairs company.
'The synergy of putting the deal together was based really on our long-standing relations, plus our collective thought that we could do well with this new approach, which blends public affairs, strategic communications and a management consulting model,' Martin added.
Bullock has 'already hung up pictures and opened up mail' in an office at PSI, according to PSI managing director Elyse Yates. PSI used to do work for Bullock before the company turned away from political campaigning to focus on non-partisan consulting for corporate clients.