Holmes Report 01 Dec 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
Gloria Dittus is, with no pun intended, one of Washington DC’s most storied public affairs names, possessing a 30-year track record that includes setting up and selling two game-changing PA firms in Direct Impact (to Burson-Marsteller) and Dittus Communications (to FD). After completing the latter sale, Dittus launched her third firm - Story Partners - at the start of 2010. Dittus has directed strategic comms programs for high-profile corporate clients such as Shell Exploration & Production, Dell, SAP, Southern Company, British Telecom and GM, and her issue advocacy expertise has been called upon by numerous campaigns, including Americans for Computer Privacy, Pepco’s “DC is Electric” campaign, the High-Tech DTV Coalition’s campaign for DTV transition and the Campaign for Tire Safety, as well as campaigns promoting increased access to domestic energy resources, terrorism insurance, Patriot Act reform, aviation passenger security and permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) for China.
The goals for Story Partners - to be the best medium-sized PA firm focusing on digital communications, may sound more modest, but reveal that Dittus instinct for business opportunity has not deserted her. Public affairs has been transformed by digital campaigning techniques, and firms that can nimbly straddle both worlds are only likely to prosper in the years ahead. At Story Partners, Dittus is joined by two other principals: digital specialist Amos Snead, who previously worked as press secretary to Republican whip Roy Blunt; and veteran PA and campaign executive Loran Aiken. This trio launched the firm, and have since been joined by other senior talent: political veteran Anne Brady; grassroots comms expert Rick Heartsill; policy specialist Norma Jane Sabiston; former Dittus financial services director Shelton Jones; creative director Deborah Sauri; and PA veteran Mollie O’Dell.
Unsurprisingly, the firm has experienced double-digit growth in its first 18 months, increasing from two clients to more than 10. Its deep social media offering gives it a competitive edge, as does its size and agility. Key clients include the Alabama Power & Southern Company, the Coalition for Patent Fairness, and Centerpoint Energy. The firm’s links with Alabama and Louisiana have also brought a steady stream of campaign work from the region, including the Gulf Coast Economic Development Coalition. And its Election Night digital platform brought it considerable kudos among the media elite.
“Story Partners takes a fresh approach to public affairs with a veteran team driven by results. They are relentless in providing clients with top tier guidance and they dig deep to research and understand the needs of their clients,” says Robert Tai, of Google’s public policy and government affairs division.“What makes Story Partners succeed is their ability to pay attention to every minute detail, all the while understanding the bigger picture and mission of the client.” –AS