Baxter hires new internal comms director, PR help on the way

DEERFIELD, IL: Baxter International, the medical supplies giant,

has hired a new director of internal communications for the latest move

in a reorganization and expansion of its communication operations.

Baxter expects to hire at least two more PR people and to look for

additional agency help on several projects, said Matt Gonring, VP

corporate communications.

Gonring has already hired Chicago agency Matha/MacDonald to look at

strategic plans for internal communications, and Ogilvy Interactive to

assess Baxter's Web communications activities. Burson-Marsteller also

does some work for Baxter, which has no agency of record. 'We're looking

at additional support for brand development activities,' Gonring


Baxter spends dollars 7-10 million annually on corporate communications,

but he expects that to increase.

Since joining Baxter six months ago, Gonring has created a

communications center, consolidating groups that had handled corporate

communications, Web communications, a customer call center and community


He has also begun meeting with PR people who work for various Baxter

business and geographic units, trying to clarify their roles and enhance

collaboration among them and his new communications center.

Fifty-five people work in the communications center while 35 handle

communications for business units and regions.

Melissa Oakley was named Baxter's new global internal comms director on

March 20, joining the medical products company from McDonald's.

Gonring had also hired George Rafeedie, a former coworker at Arthur

Andersen, as his manager of media relations, and brought on board Amanda

Albright, a recent grad of Northwestern's IMC graduate program, to

handle special projects. Deborah Spak was promoted from manager to

director of media relations.

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