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Partnership connects pair of communications firms

Rochester Business Journal
May 4, 2012

Two experienced executives have formed a communications partnership between a pair of young Rochester companies.
 
Tom Morabito, founder of Park Avenue Investor Relations LLC, and Michael McDougall, a founder of public relations and advertising firm McDougall Travers Collins LLC, have aligned their businesses to provide a variety of services for local, national and global clients.
 
The two companies will remain independently owned with separate offices but will provide access to each other's services.
 
"These kinds of partnerships are happening more and more in this industry," McDougall said. "In the past you would always have separate investor relations and public relations functions. However, because of the digital platform that exists now, everyone is seeing the message, whether it's a customer or a shareholder. You have to make sure those two functions are one."
 
McDougall is a former global vice president of communications for Bausch & Lomb Inc. and a former public relations director for Eastman Kodak Co.
 
He formed a partnership with Buffalo-based Travers, Collins & Co., a marketing and communications agency, to create McDougall Travers Collins in Rochester last September. The company has two employees in Rochester.
 
McDougall said he hopes the alignment with Park Avenue IR will help separate McDougall Travers Collins from other PR firms in Rochester.
 
"I was working with a client a couple weeks ago, helping them get ready to address some changes they were making to the organization, and they asked, 'What's your view on this from an investor standpoint?'" McDougall said. "I didn't have a view. I don't have a background in investor relations. But now that advice is just a call or short drive away."
 
Morabito is a former vice president of investor relations at Paetec Holding Corp. He also has led investor relations for TJX Cos. Inc., parent company to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls Inc., and DDR Corp., which owns and manages shopping centers in three countries.
 
Morabito launched Park Avenue IR in April. Its services include investor outreach and targeting, financial results support, press releases and media outreach. So far Morabito is the only employee, but he does not expect it to stay that way for long.
 
The alignment between the two firms serves as evidence that the line between public relations and investor relations has blurred, especially with the increased use of social media in the financial industry.
 
Connecticut-based Rivel Research Group Inc. released a study in March that showed a significant online presence through websites and social media has become essential to successful IR strategies.
 
The study said more than 60 percent of investors plan to increase the use of social media to seek investment opportunities. Meanwhile, 63 percent of investors surveyed said information about companies found on Twitter led them to conduct further research.
 
"I get clients who ask about social media, PR campaigns or advertising all the time," Morabito said. "Those aren't my expertise. But they're right up Mike's alley.
 
Along with broadening their communications resources, Morabito and McDougall said, proving that two Rochester companies could provide such services also was a motivation for the partnership.
 
"Even a couple of years ago you would have to go to Chicago or New York to get the collection of services we are offering," he said. "Now all of our clients can get them from right here in Rochester."

5/4/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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