AUSTIN, TX — Industry veteran Bob Pearson, who launched GCI Health and was a W2O Group president, has created a collective of firms that spans the marketing, communications and technology needs of organizations of all sizes. The Next Practice’s capabilities include leading a business transformation, creating a new digital media or lead management campaign, building analytics models and handling technology needs from cybersecurity to server migrations, all while linking social purpose and business. Network partners include: Brain+Trust, led by founder/CEO Tim Hayden and COO/partner Tracy Arrington; CHANGEx, led by founder/CEO John McNeel; Ringer Sciences, led by Yash Gad; RocketSauce Media Labs, led by co-founders/CEOs Dave Pierpont and Julia Thuman; FosterEquity, led by CEO Chris Foster; and Victory CTO, led by co-founders/CEOs John Cunningham and Chris Chilek.

BLOOMINGTON, IN — A group of industry volunteers have launched a PR mentoring network to help People of Color who want to get into the PR business by connecting them with a mentor. PR professionals of all backgrounds who would like to participate in the PR Mentoring Network are encouraged to commit to one hour per month for the next two years or more to help their mentees leapfrog into the industry. This volunteer effort is simply a series of online materials, forms, and manual matchmaking emails to help mentors and mentees connect. The rest is up to the pairs to both get value from their tie and mentoring relationship. The PR Mentoring Network, started at Bloomington agency Rock Paper Scissors is also seeking partners at universities, trade groups, and other non-profit organizations who work with Black and Indigenous youth and young People of Color that are interested in pursuing careers in PR and who would likely want a career mentor.

TAMPA, FL — Press PR + Marketing has launched a community initiative called Above The Fold to help tell the stories and amplify the voices of Black and BIPOC-owned businesses by providing templates and marketing resources, communication strategy sessions and highlighting community leaders. The communications toolkit features how-to instructions to create a press release, a media alert and ways to best contact the traditional media to raise the voices of underserved communities. The One-On-One Communication Strategy sessions help set goals and determine the most effective external communication strategies for small business owners. Lastly, the community spotlights highlight the people, initiatives, businesses and organizations making a difference in the Tampa Bay community.

WASHINGTON — Seven Letter and O’Neill and Associates will combine their strategic communications and marketing practices to create a fully integrated agency with solutions in public affairs, media relations, crisis and corporate communications, digital marketing and advertising, and grasstops mobilization. The combined company will have more than 40 employees, national reach and a roster of public and private sector clients in financial services, health care, education, transportation, energy, housing and nonprofits, and will operate under the Seven Letter brand. O’Neill’s government relations practice will continue to operate, bolstered by the capabilities provided by the expanded Seven Letter team.

ALBANY, NY —  Baker Public Relations is hosting its first virtual internship program as college students face ongoing challenges due to Covid-19. The online training allows students to learn public relations and marketing skills throughout the summer with the assurance of staying safe and healthy in the comfort of their own homes. Two local college students are the first to participate in the virtual internship program and have already started working with the Baker Public Relations team online.