EDITORIAL: Middleberg joins the acquired club

On the Middleberg + Associates Web site, there’s a section where chairman and CEO Don Middleberg reviews restaurants where he’s dined.

On the Middleberg + Associates Web site, there’s a section where chairman and CEO Don Middleberg reviews restaurants where he’s dined.

On the Middleberg + Associates Web site, there’s a section where

chairman and CEO Don Middleberg reviews restaurants where he’s

dined.



The listings have expanded significantly since we last checked in - no

surprise, as Middleberg has been wooed by potential suitors over lunch

and dinner non-stop for the past year. Up until recently, however, the

meetings only served to beef up his dining guide and the expense

accounts of other companies.



But it looks as if Middleberg has finally found an offer he can sink his

teeth into. With last week’s deal, Middleberg has joined the ranks of

the formerly independent technology firms, a growing fraternity that

recently added KVO Public Relations and Lois Paul & Partners to its

ranks.



Sources say that Middleberg had all but signed a deal in early April,

but news of Incepta’s dollars 150 million acquisition of Sard Verbinnen

convinced Middleberg that he could get a lot more for his New York-based

agency, where PR income grew 119% last year to dollars 11.4 million. The

NASDAQ’s recent slide, while no doubt cooling the market for Internet

IPOs, has ironically bolstered the demand for savvy hi-tech PR counsel.

And few do it better than Middleberg.



It looks as if the firm’s strategy - eschewing risky Internet start-ups

in favor of established companies looking to take their business online

- has paid healthy dividends. The acquisition of Middleberg leaves only

Cunningham, FitzGerald and Schwartz Communications in play, and smart

money says at least one of those firms will fall this summer.





Blood-drive boycott could be fatal



When 200 or so blood-collection workers in Connecticut went on strike

last month, most figured that it was a mere pressure tactic. Each side

would eventually relax their demands, a contract would be reached and

the local Red Cross wouldn’t be forced to dip too deeply into its

6,500-unit reserves (the surplus amounted to about an 11-day

supply).



More than five weeks later, however, the strike has turned uglier than

could have been anticipated. In a move that defies logic, the AFL-CIO

took the unprecedented step of asking its 265,000 Connecticut members to

boycott blood drives until the labor dispute is resolved.



So in order to secure a better financial package for 200 phlebotomists,

nurses and lab workers, the AFL-CIO is attempting to hold an entire

region’s blood supply hostage? A tad shortsighted, perhaps?



What the AFL-CIO has learned since issuing the ultimatum is that the

public doesn’t take to threats involving its collective health too

kindly.



The union didn’t just lose this particular PR battle, it created a

second one - one that will require overtime work to ensure that the

organization isn’t saddled with a reputation for being willing to

compromise the blood supply in order to achieve its financial ends.



Nobody is disputing that the blood-collection workers put in long hours

or that they have every right to strike for what they think they

deserve.



But their misguided attempt to bleed a group like the Red Cross, which

has built up a Texas-size reservoir of good will over the years, will

likely haunt them long after this dispute is forgotten.



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