LOS ANGELES—Richard Kline, for the past eight years a regional president and partner at Fleishman-Hillard, is joining Occidental Petroleum, a world leader in oil and natural gas exploration and production and a major North American chemical manufacturer, as vice president, communications and public affairs. He will be responsible for public relations—including internal and external communications—public affairs and advertising and will report to Donald de Brier, executive vice president and general counsel, while serving as an officer of the company.
For Kline, the move marks a return to the corporate realm—he began his career in the financial services industry, working in-house for Union Federal Savings & Loan Association and for Great Western Savings & Loan Association—after many years on the agency side.
In 1978, he co-founded Berkhemer & Kline, which grew to become one of the largest independent public relations firms on the west coast before being acquired by GolinHarris. At Golin he led the Los Angeles office before joining sister company Shandwick, where he was president and ran U.S. operations. He has counseled leading companies including AT&T, Chrysler Corporation, Eastman Kodak Company, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co., McDonald’s, Microsoft, Nintendo, Shell Oil Products, and Sony.
Most recently at Fleishman, in addition to his regional president role, he served as point man for the firm dealing with the fallout from allegations of over-billing in Los Angeles, for which former L.A. general manager Douglas Dowie was recently sentenced to 42 months in jail after being convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud charges.
Fleishman president Dave Senay described Kline as “a consummate professional, a person whose judgment, commitment, and integrity can be counted on, and a gentleman.”
Kline said he was attracted to the Occidental position by the quality of the company’s senior management team. Ray Irani has been the chairman and chief executive since 1990, following the death of the company’s founder Armand Hammer. Kline takes over from Larry Meriage, who was with Occidental for 25 years, the last five of them as vice president of communications and public affairs.