LAST CALL: N-M converts Web woes into press op

When San Francisco agency Neale-May's staffers came to work last

week to find themselves blocked from access to the Internet and e-mail

due to the abrupt shutdown of DSL provider Northpoint, they knew just

what to do. Rather than panic about the potentially disastrous effects

on account service and media relations, they courted press coverage on

the effects of the closure.

The result was a bevy of A-list media coverage including drive-time

interviews with Stern on CNET Radio and KCBS-AM, an evening news story

on the local ABC-TV affiliate showing footage of the Neale-May offices,

a CNBC piece featuring on-air comments by partner Donovan Neale-May and

an interview with USA Today.

The agency has meanwhile hooked all the office computers up to a PC

server with a single modem connected to an analog phone line and dusted

off the fax machine.

Rumors that rival firms have been sneakily snipping cable lines with the

San Francisco Chronicle's newsdesk programmed into their cellphone speed

dial are, as yet, unfounded.

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