Paul Holmes 05 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
CAMBRIDGE, June 5—With technology companies facing an ever-increasing array of government relations and issues management challenges, high-tech PR specialist The Weber Group is drawing on the experience of its sister companies in the Weber Shandwick Worldwide network to offer a broader range of public affairs and crisis communications services.
The Weber Group this week announced the launch of Tech 911, a new crisis communications offering that will be headed by executive vice president western region general manager Donna Gibbs and tap into the expertise of crisis communications specialist Rowan & Blewitt and litigation communications agency Bork Communications. The firm is also expanding its presence in the Washington, D.C., area, bringing together Weber’s Arlington office and the technology and telecom expertise of Powell Tate.
According to Ben Boyd, executive vice president and director of Weber’s Washington office, “We’ve come together to offer an immediate platform of talent, ready to serve the needs of national and local technology clients during a time when the intense scrutiny of the technology sector has brought the importance of public relations to the forefront of business leaders’ agendas.”
The Weber Group’s D.C. office will have 24 professionals with broad B2B and B2C technology experience in hardware, software, e-commerce/e-business, digital and interactive media, and telecommunications. The office will also handle a variety of technology regulatory and policy issues for clients needing public affairs expertise.
On the crisis front, meanwhile, Tech 911 will offer advice on financial issues (profit warnings, takeovers, accounting irregularities); technology problems (privacy and security); litigation (patent infringement, copyright violations, anti-trust); and employee issues (layoffs, discrimination, harassment, class action lawsuits).
“Increasingly, activist groups, disgruntled ex-employees and burned shareholders are publicly criticizing companies—and galvanizing support for their cause—without the filter of the traditional news media,” says Gibbs. “The Internet is the greatest grassroots organizing tool of the 21st century, and today’s attack tactics require a fundamentally different communications approach. Tech 911 goes beyond the ‘controlled information network’ and uses the immediate medium of the Internet to directly influence important.”
The Tech 911 team includes Gibbs, who previously worked in-house at Nike and has particular expertise in combating activist groups on global labor issues; Don Goldberg, vice president of The Weber Group, and a former special assistant to President Clinton: and Mike Spataro, executive vice president of Weber Shandwick Interactive and a leading authority on Internet-based crisis management.
The team will also work closely with Rich Blewitt and Ford Rowan of Rowan & Blewitt, and Robert Bork, chairman and CEO of Bork & Associates.