AUSTIN, June 18—Whenever a major political figure, fresh from Congress (or in this case not so fresh from the Texas governor’s mansion) joins a public affairs firm, there are question about the role he or she will play. Will his or her greatest contribution be a name on the letterhead? Will he or she provide anything beyond the oft over-rated access?
The management team at Public Strategies, an Austin-based public affairs firm with a growing national presence, has no such doubts about former Texas Governor Ann Richard, who will open a New York office in October. Richard will be a senior advisor to the firm, working closely with her longtime associate Jane Hickie, who ran the state of Texas office in Washington, D.C.
“First and foremost we are selling strategy,” says Mark Rose, chief executive of Public Strategies. “Governor Richard is an excellent strategist. Those folks who have worked with her know that she has the ability to understand a situation quickly and come up with a strategic solution.”
Rose says Richards, who has spent the last six years at Washington lobbying firm Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand, has the ability to marshal all the resources of Public Strategies, which combines traditional public relations and public affairs with direct lobbying and issues advertising—using the appropriate blend for each situation.
“Increasingly, we are not only helping companies with public policy issues, but also with corporate reputation and positioning,” says Rose. “Over the past six years, Governor Richards has demonstrated the ability to think strategically across all of those areas.”
Richards’ decision to leave Verner Liipfert was prompted by her desire to spend more time in New York, she says. She chose Public Strategies because “the firm is on the cutting edge of corporate and institutional strategy.” PSI has offices in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Washington, D.C., where one of her colleagues will be former White House spokesman Mike McCurry.
Says Public Strategies founder and chairman Jack Martin, “We are excited about the opportunities that abound for us in New York, and Governor Richards will better enable us to showcase PSI capabilities in the New York arena,” he said.