Sandia tries to end confusion with rival

LIVERMORE, CA: Sandia Labs is tired of getting sand kicked in its face when it comes to comparisons with the better-known Lawrence Livermore Labs.

LIVERMORE, CA: Sandia Labs is tired of getting sand kicked in its face when it comes to comparisons with the better-known Lawrence Livermore Labs.

Both technology labs do similar work, and Americans often confuse the two, despite the fact that both are funded with millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Sandia is headquartered in Albuquerque, NM, and has an office in Livermore.

So Sandia is initiating a pro-active media outreach program to boost its image. The Livermore office has hired Mike Janes as public and media relations officer to focus on stories in the Bay Area with some national outreach. Janes was most recently media relations manager with the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC.

Because the Bay Area is such a hotbed of tech innovation, Janes explained, Sandia is pushing its media outreach with science and business editors.

Janes said Sandia's Livermore PR operation did not actively pursue PR stories, concentrating on community relations instead.

Recently, however, the two labs have been caught in a squabble between New Mexico and California congressmen, after the Bush administration called Livermore Labs a "center of excellence, and named it to spearhead research on homeland security. The comment caused Rep. Pete Dominici (R-NM) to cry foul.

Still, Janes claims the political posturing has no impact on his PR goals.

Maybe not, but the most recent story he placed with the San Francisco Chronicle (August 19, 2002) was on the development of SimCity, a video game developed by Sandia, which simulates "a war-room environment in the event of a terrorist attack."

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