Some initials for you: Maui. Mergers and Acquisitions. USC and Green.
Back from Maui and ready for some major PR work and news this week. Hawaii is still a great place, but its dependency on travel and tourism can create turmoil for some of my PR colleagues. Just as hotels and resort properties seemed to have withstood the global recession, now another global event will force another major change in strategy. Some hotels rely heavily on Japanese tourists while others focus on the U.S. market. The devastation in Japan is predicted to create a significant drop in tourists from that country to the islands. Now, resort properties dependent on Japan will begin to focus on other markets - which could lead to some fierce competition.
This was Spring Break time for Hawaii, and I was glad to see many friends taking their families there. Yet, there are signs of lingering trouble. When I last visited Maui in 2006, all the shops at Whaler's Village in Kaanapali were full. Last week, there were many empty ones. The fabulous Ritz Carlton at Kapalua, like many HI resorts, is in default. With higher fuel prices, the question is: When will Hawaii catch a break?
In case you missed it, Ruder Finn acquired The Rogers Group last week. Good news: They report no layoffs. Ruder Finn actually says it's hiring in SFO to bolster its West Coast operations.
The Rogers Group was probably ripe for a sale. The firm lost my friend and a great leader in Lynn Doll when she suddenly passed away last August. She was a driving force behind the firms' steady growth and success. CA budget woes didn't help, and the state was not renewing some contracts, including a large one for the firm.
Ruder Finn has long tried to be a strong presence on the West Coast, with many starts and stops. It had previously tried to build business organically. Now, it appears, RF has the ability to create growth through acquisition and bring in a well-known and very capable leader such as Ron Rogers. Aside from the normal M&A issues, it will be interesting to see if there will be new directions for Ruder Finn/West. Public affairs joins technology?
Don't miss a great, free program this Thursday at the University of Southern California. The annual "Kenneth Owler Smith" Symposium, named after one of our great PR leaders from Southern California, will feature a discussion about the changing relationships between PR and journalism. More information here.
A great program is coming to LA on May 16 - Sustainability Communications. This still-growing practice area of Public Relations is now creating new posts, new challenges and changing faster than social media. A very affordable event. Click here for more details.