AUSTIN: Recognizing the growing importance of PR in politics, Texas icon Gib Lewis has selected Burson-Marsteller for a strategic alliance.
"We believe this kind of partnership is going to be needed in the future," explained Lewis, who was Texas house speaker for a decade before retiring in 1993. "We checked out several firms that handled PR, and these people were the best we could find."
Lewis' five-member lobbying team, Business Partners Ltd., includes former state representative Mike Millsap and Tom Treadway, previously executive director of the Texas General Services Commission.
The alliance makes Lewis' firm Burson's preferred partner, to which it will refer clients needing Texas lobbying services, said Burson's Texas MD Mike Lake.
With grassroots campaigning becoming prevalent, Lewis sees an increased need for PR in advocating political positions. He said the alliance will help put his firm on equal footing with other agencies that offer a range of services, such as Austin public affairs shop Public Strategies.
"Our expertise is direct contact with members of the Legislature," Lewis said, recognizing that other outside influences may be needed to sway lawmakers. "You have to tell your story effectively to the media."
Burson's five-person Austin outpost, headed by GM Russ Keene, focuses heavily on public affairs, serving pharmaceutical and insurance clients.
It also works on the Texas Public Utility Commission's electric deregulation education campaign.