People News in Brief (August 11, 2008)
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

People News in Brief (August 11, 2008)

Peppercom has promoted Ted Birkhahn to the newly created role of chief operating officer, plus new people in new roles at Volkswagen Canada, the University of Michigan, Devon Energy, and GreenMark Public Relations.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK—Peppercom has promoted Ted Birkhahn to the newly created role of chief operating officer, head of client services. In addition to his client service responsibilities, Birkhahn will focus on integrating the firm’s three offices, streamlining the way new products and services are brought to market, and evolving the agency staffing model to meet the demands of the firm’s growth. As Peppercom continues to grow, Birkhahn will take the lead on developing an agency structure that can support and sustain future growth while ensuring quality of service across all offerings for all clients. 


AJAX, ON—Volkswagen Canada has named Peter Viney as its new manager, public relations for the Volkswagen brand in Canada. Viney succeeds Patrick Saint-Pierre, who has accepted a post with Volkswagen of America. Viney has held a variety of posts during his 19 years with the company, with area management positions in Vancouver and, most recently, Montreal. He will be responsible for the planning and execution of the public relations and media relations activities for the Volkswagen brand, as well as for Volkswagen Group Canada as a corporate citizen in the Canadian marketplace.


ANN ARBOR, MI—Kallie Bila Michels has been appointed associate vice president for communications at the University of Michigan. Michels will guide the University's central communications operations, overseeing the news service, public affairs and media relations, and marketing and design, and will coordinate and integrate communications efforts to advance the reputation of the University. Michels brings 20 years of experience in public relations at the University of Michigan Health System, where she has served as the director of public relations since 2000.


OKLAHOMA CITY—Devon Energy Corporation has appointed William Whitsitt as senior vice president, public affairs. In this newly created executive position, Whitsitt will be responsible for the governmental relations, public relations and communications efforts for the company. Whitsitt has been engaged in his own consulting practice in Washington, D.C. since 1997, providing public affairs and policy advice, issue management and public and governmental affairs representation to a broad range of clients. Prior to forming his consulting business, he was director, governmental affairs for one of the world's largest law firms.


CHICAGO—GreenMark Public Relations has added integrated marketing specialist Beth Burdin to its client services team. As marketing communications senior associate, she will contribute to the expansion of GreenMark’s integrated service offerings. Burdin has 20 years of marketing experience, most recently as the owner/manager of Marketing Works Unlimited. She will be responsible for marketing strategy and implementation for GreenMark’s environmentally-conscious clients, and will assist in new business growth.

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