NEW YORK: The US-based consultants for Dubai Ports World, which acquired six US ports from British firm P & O, have launched Cuestamar Associates to provide "protective communications" to DP World and other clients.
Cuestamar co-founding partner Mark Dennis had been consulting for Bell Pottinger, DP World’s global AOR, during the United Arab Emirates-owned company’s protracted bid to run the US ports. He soon drafted Cuestamar co-founding partner Andrew Rice to assist his team.
Dennis was formerly the chief communications advisor for Terje Roed-Larsen, United Nations special envoy to the Middle East. And Rice was previously a communications advisor to the Colombian government and had worked at the Rendon Group. Both are also former journalists.
Bell Pottinger remains DP World’s global advisers, and DP World, Bell Pottinger, and Dennis agreed that Cuestamar Associates would continue serving DP World as US communications advisors, according to Dennis. Bell Pottinger declined to comment. DP World has subsequently entered an agreement to transfer control of its US operations to undisclosed entity.
The duo met with PRWeek to discuss the concept of “protective communications” when they were holding meetings in New York. Cuestamar will be based in Los Angeles with an annex in Washington.
Dennis and Rice said they would offer boutique services, where one person created strategy for a client and the other handled execution during crisis and high-stakes situations. They will work in tandem with clients’ executives, communications professionals, and lawyers, as well as having a network of communications and research professionals to tap when necessary.
Rice said DP World allows them to do both strategy and execution.
“It’s absolutely critical in a crisis situation that communications is at the table and directly involved; not just simply implementing a strategy,” Rice said.
Added Dennis, “We’re fortunate to have an excellent client who puts a primacy on information management and [has] executives who reserve a seat at the table for communications advisors.”
Said Michael Moore, SVP commercial of DP World, in an e-mail, “We originally brought them in as a short-term solution and discovered that they were so tenacious and fiercely protective of us…, which is why we continue working with them, even though the US crisis is passed. They have become more project advisors rather than simply crisis managers as we originally intended.”
The principals were in town looking to partner with law firms and larger communications agencies and meet potential clients.