Stratacomm forced to cut back on top auto PR talent

DETROIT: What was once billed as an auto-industry PR dream team has woken up to the cold reality of the PR recession.

DETROIT: What was once billed as an auto-industry PR dream team has woken up to the cold reality of the PR recession.

Stratacomm's Detroit office is parting company with Bruce MacDonald and Bud Liebler, two of three former automaker comms chiefs at the agency.

Liebler had been an SVP of marketing at DaimlerChrysler. MacDonald was a former VP of communications at GM and Saturn, and had run the Stratacomm Detroit office until early this year. Liebler had helped shape Lee Iacocca's image when he was working at Chrysler.

Jason Vines, former VP of communications with Ford, will remain as the managing partner of Stratacomm's Detroit outpost. Vines was hired along with Liebler early this year.

When he announced the hirings, Stratacomm founder Jeffrey Conley said, "Bringing the former top communicators of the Big Three under one roof to provide strategic counseling is a first in automotive history."

But three big names weren't enough to generate substantial new business in a market where major players have been cutting expenses this year.

"This was pure economics, and nothing more. The current revenue in Detroit isn't enough to support three principals," said Vines. The Detroit office will bring in between $1 million and $2 million this year, Vines said.

MacDonald said he hasn't decided what his next undertaking will be. Vines said "most likely, Bruce will continue as one of our senior independent consultants." MacDonald has experience working in the military area, which no one else in the Detroit office has, Vines noted.

The Detroit office has six full-time staffers and six independent consultants.

Stratacomm opened its Detroit office in 2000, taking over clients that had been served there by Hill & Knowlton.

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