Waggener Edstrom splits with Washington DC GM

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide has parted ways with Washington DC GM Ben Finzel after a year on the job.

WASHINGTON: Waggener Edstrom Worldwide has parted ways with Washington DC GM Ben Finzel after a year on the job.

Finzel will not be replaced, said Allyson Savage, VP of corporate communications at the firm. He also led the agency's public affairs services as an SVP.

“When we looked at our vision of what our public affairs offering should be, it wasn't necessarily what [Finzel] had in mind…so it wasn't a good fit,” Savage said. She did not deny claims by sources with knowledge of the situation that he was terminated for not growing the office during his tenure.

The DC office will remain open with an office manager overseeing administrative duties. Finzel's former direct reports will either report to public affairs VP Aris Gardner or be rolled into the firm's social innovation practice, Savage said.

When Finzel joined WE last September, he said his goal was to extend the reputation of the public affairs practice and build awareness of the firm in the DC market. He said the job was “a shift for me in terms of opportunity and responsibility.”

During a wide-ranging discussion with PRWeek in May, Finzel said he felt things were going well in the role.

However, sources said it has been difficult for WE to break through as a candidate for public affairs work in the Beltway because its staff is smaller than those of competitors, some of which have been in the region for years longer.

Savage acknowledged that “you always run into challenges when other folks have been there decades longer.” She added that moving forward, public affairs will be supported by all the firm's offices, instead of one central location.

Finzel did not return several requests for comment.

There was much turnover at the top rungs of Washington agency offices this summer. Chandler Chicco, Porter Novelli, MSLGroup, and Finn Partners have all announced changes in the GM roles in their offices in the nation's capital. FleishmanHillard's DC-based mid-Atlantic president also departed recently.

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