WASHINGTON: As California bears down for a summer of rolling
blackouts and political finger-pointing, and utility companies look to
PR to ease public fears and keep deregulation plans on track, agencies
are looking for ways to improve their energy offerings.
One solution has been to hire people with backgrounds in energy.
Burson-Marsteller recently named Jim Cunningham, former president of the
Pennsylvania Electric Association, head of its new Utility Group, and
this week brought in Ira Fine, a former senior information specialist at
the New York Power Authority, as a manager at its New York public
Also in recent weeks, Ogilvy hired Jim Pierobon, once the head energy
writer at the Houston Chronicle, while APCO tapped Patrick Dorinson,
formerly communications director at Cal ISO and assistant secretary at
the Department of Energy.
In another move, many agencies have consolidated their energy offerings
into more cohesive units. Deborah Louison, SVP and director of global
services at APCO, said her firm is 'pulling together and rebranding our
global energy practice ... making much more of an effort to let it be
known what our credentials are.'
The crisis has also sparked a flurry of new business. APCO recently
signed a contract with the California alliance for Energy and Economic
Stability and at least one other energy interest.
Executives at Ogilvy also acknowledge new clients won as a result of 'a
renewed sense of urgency.'
And several firms gave oral presentations for a California Energy
Commission campaign last week.