DNC causes Boston PR firms to alter plans

The Democratic National Convention, set for the week of July 26 to 29, is causing logistical nightmares for the area's PR firms.

The Democratic National Convention, set for the week of July 26 to 29, is causing logistical nightmares for the area's PR firms.

Interstate 93 will be closed around the Fleet Center during the afternoons and evenings and the North Station will be closed to trains during the week, causing major hassles for anyone commuting from north of the city. Over 40,000 people are expected to attend the convention.

Text 100 has prepared for the event by giving its 20 employees in the office three options during that week, said Matt Lloyd, the firm's VP and Boston GM.

Employees can either work from home through email, instant messenger and having calls forwarded to their home or cell line; through flex hours that skirt the difficult traveling periods; or from New York where they will be able to communicate as if they were in the Boston office, Lloyd said.

John Isaf, SVP and director of Arnold Corporate Communications, said that everything to the north of the city around the Fleet Center would cause large problems.

"It's hard to plan for it because they could close a street on at a moment's notice," Isaf said.

Arnold, located in the Back Bay area of Boston, will encourage employees who normally commute to telecommute instead.

"It will be business as usual, but commuting will be difficult, so we'll be flexible." Isaf said.

Blanc & Otus GM Sharon Barclay said that workers have been given the opportunity to work from home, take a vacation, or, as in her case, ride a bike to work. The company has set up a virtual private network [VPN] for employees to connect securely from home.

"The key here is planning in advance and being really flexible," Barclay said.

Text 100's local clients will confront the same travel quagmires and have to contemplate similar procedures, Lloyd said.

"For clients outside of Boston, we're keeping them in the loop about these plans," Lloyd said.

Barclay said the company has informed all of its clients of its plans and has given them home and cellular phone numbers.

"We hope they won't see any drop in response," she said.

Arnold has also told clients that necessary meetings shouldn't be held in Boston, according to Isaf.

Blanc & Otus had to dissuade one of its clients from doing a media tour in Boston during that time, according to Barclay.

There won't be hotel rooms and Logan Airport will be a nightmare, Isaf said, so the firm is avoiding flying out or having clients fly in.

Clients won't notice the difference, Lloyd said, because the company already has formal plans from working from home.

"Tech companies are demanding that PR agencies provide them with a mobile workforce, and we have embraced that trend," Lloyd said.

He added: "They will dial into the main number the same way, so they won't notice the difference at all."

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