WASHINGTON, D.C.—High-tech public relations giant Waggener Edstrom Strategic Communications, which has been expanding its portfolio of services over the past couple of years, has opened an office in Washington to expand its fast-growing public affairs practice, and hired Torod Neptune to lead the firm’s activities in the nation’s capital.
Neptune joins Waggener Edstrom from the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as director of strategic and crisis communications for the House’s chief administrative officers’ organization, and led crisis communications planning and response.
Waggener Edstrom launched a public affairs practice last year with the addition of Matt Reid, a former Fleishman exec, in its Portland office. The firm has also been developing a consumer practice—including the acquisition of Maloney & Fox in New York—and expanding its international operations. The public affairs practice has a staff of 13 handling assignments for clients such as Microsoft, MasterCard International, Capital Sports & Entertainment and Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.
Reid says the addition of a Washington office was a logical move, driven by client demands.
“The technology industry, as it matures, has really recognized the intersection between business and policy,” he says. “More and more technology companies are taking a leadership role in ensuring they are engaging with government in a way that fosters their own business success and protects consumers.”
Privacy and security concerns are particularly high on the agenda, he says, but tech clients are also dealing with the same issues of corporate citizenship and governance that impact all companies.
Neptune has more than 17 years of experience in Washington, D.C., directing public affairs communications strategies for a range of private and government organizations. At the U.S. House of Representatives he was responsible for developing a 24-7, on-call crisis communications program for the House of Representatives after September 11. Before working on Capitol Hill, he served as senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs with Bank of America, where he was responsible for external and internal communications, media relations, charitable giving, government relations, public affairs, issues management, public policy and brand communications for the consumer products division. He also worked at Powell Tate, Hager Sharp and Public Affairs Group.
“The fast growth of Waggener Edstrom’s public affairs practice speaks for itself,” says Neptune. “Our approach merges traditional public affairs with strong media relations, corporate communications and proprietary research to address business strategy, legislative impact, corporate image and internal communications — plus we offer the global reach of a large agency and the nimbleness and creativity of a boutique.”
Neptune will work with two additional Washington staff members and with East Coast general manager Keith Lindenburg in his efforts to grow the business.