NEWS BRIEFS:

HONG KONG: Weber Shandwick has been hired by The International AIDS Society to manage a global media relations campaign for the XV International AIDS Conference. The conference, jointly hosted by the IAS and the Thai Ministry of Public Health, will take place July 11-16 in Bangkok. Speakers will include Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and Richard Gere.

NEW YORK: Ruder Finn has been tapped by the Marianas Visitors Authority to promote tourism to the Northern Mariana Islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota - a US commonwealth - to the Chinese market.

CHICAGO: Integrated firm Slack Barshinger has taken over the StrongForce Group, a Chicago PR firm that specialized in tech work. Two former PR21 executives who founded StrongForce two years ago - Paul Battaglia and Mark Smith - will join Slack as part of the deal. Battaglia had been GM of PR21's Chicago office before starting his firm. Smith has been a PR21 SVP. StrongForce's clients will now be served by Slack.

MINNESOTA: Leslie Kupchella, former press secretary to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, will be joining Tunheim Partners, working in the public affairs area. She spent the past year and a half as the governor's press secretary. Tunheim is known in the Twin Cities for its public affairs expertise.

STAMFORD, CT: The Thomson Corporation has hired Frank Golden as VP of IR. Golden recently served as SVP of IR for Cablevision Systems Corporation.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: MWW Group has hired Kurt Genden as SVP of consumer marketing. Prior to joining MWW, Genden was an SVP at PR21, where he led the firm's consumer practice in New York.

BOSTON: Brodeur Worldwide has made several senior hires and promotions in recent weeks. In its Washington, DC office, Brodeur hired David Fish as an SVP. Fish came from tech think tank The Progress & Freedom Foundation. Thom Brodeur - no relation to agency chairman John Brodeur - has joined as a VP in Phoenix, where the agency promoted Sonia Bovio to VP. In Boston, Judith Navoy has been promoted to VP.

PROVO, UT: Connect PR has added five new tech clients seeking media and analyst relations counsel: Avidian Technologies, ClickFox, GT Software, Oversight Technologies, and Trusted Network Technologies.

NEW YORK: Judith Leiber, purveyor of luxury handbags and accessories, has awarded its integrated ad and PR account to Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners. The firm will develop a communications campaign for the fall in support of the brand's growth and expansion strategy.

NEW YORK: BlowSearch, a provider of internet search tools, has selected Trylon Communications as its PR AOR. Trylon will handle PR to support the company's efforts to become a leading Meta-PPC search engine.

LOS ANGELES: PainePR has hired Eric Borsum as GM. He formerly served as Hill & Knowlton's US director of social marketing and corporate social responsibility.

DALLAS: Benihana, the Miami-based restaurant chain, has selected Michael A. Burns & Associates to provide PR counseling and related services in North Texas.

NEW YORK: Ketchum has moved its Manhattan offices from Third Avenue to Rockefeller Center, at 1285 Avenue of the Americas.

NEW YORK: Research firm Biz360 has entered an alliance with pollster Roper Public Affairs to allow it to query consumers about clients' messages and add that data to its market intelligence. Roper's Newsflow measures the reach and impact of communications efforts through NOP World's weekly OmniTel surveys. The survey will be integrated into Biz360's market intelligence application, Market360. It will be called Market360 Newsflow.

STRATFORD, CT: CyberAlert, a media-monitoring and press-clipping service, has launched IntelliClips XL, a news-monitoring service that delivers only news stories in which the client?s key words are prominently featured and deletes those that contain only passing reference to the company.

SAN FRANCISCO: Blanc & Otus, a Hill & Knowlton Company, has promoted Steve McAbee from VP to GM of the Atlanta office. He replaces office co-founders Beverly McDonald and Peter Baron. The agency also said it has been hired as AOR by both SeeBeyond and Cloudmark. SeeBeyond develops software that allows companies to transfer data between applications. Cloudmark produces spam-filtering software.

AUSTIN, TX: Nanotechnology company NanoVance has selected the Loomis Group as its lead PR agency. The start-up company connects researchers and startups with product developers to make nanotech devices, focusing on prototype and experimental products.

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