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New Public Affairs Firm Hoping to Hit Sweet Spot With 'New Advocacy' New Public Affairs Firm Hoping to Hit Sweet Spot With 'New Advocacy'

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Influence

New Public Affairs Firm Hoping to Hit Sweet Spot With 'New Advocacy'

A trio of public affairs workers have started Agenda, a new, mid-sized firm focusing on what they call "new advocacy," or the advocacy behind and around traditional lobbying.

Craig Pattee, past president of Dutko Worldwide, Doug Turner, former CEO of DW Turner and Max Hamel, most recently a partner at Allied Public Affairs, are behind the start-up.

"We hold traditional lobbying in the highest regard. It's critically important, but you've got to show you have a strong base of support, and that's what people want to see on the Hill and what they want to see in the states," Pattee said.

So Agenda has brought on a number of experts in fields such as minority and multicultural outreach, social and digital media, public relations and corporate communications, third party advocacy and building support among rank-and-file members and opinion-leaders.

"There's a hole in the market place between very skilled but very small regional experts, and then the big shots, the $100 million-plus companies," Pattee said. "There's a real opportunity for a company that has specialized expertise and enough bandwidth to give clients confidence."

At the moment, Agenda has 31 clients, running the gamut from energy to health care to education. AT&T, Eli Lilly and Babcock & Wilcox are among those who've hired on Agenda.

Pattee founded Kaufman Nelson Pattee in 1994, along with former White House political adviser Ron Kaufman and Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. Turner has managed campaigns for members in both houses of Congress, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and others. And Hamel was a managing director at Dutko Worldwide and served as policy adviser to former Virgina Gov. Jim Gilmore.

Others on the leadership team of about 20 include: Christian Goff, who will be the head of Agenda's Austin, Texas, office; Chris Taylor, now COO; Freddy Balsera, heading up Agenda's bilingual and multicultural outreach; Chris Talbot, senior adviser leading the digital and social media strategy; and Jenny Mayfield, senior adviser on environmental issues. And Penny Lee will serve as a senior adviser to Agenda in developing and executing advocacy campaigns while remaining president of Venn Strategies.

In addition to the D.C. headquarters, Agenda has offices in Albuquerque, N.M., Austin, Texas, Denver, Miami, Jackson, Wyo. and San Francisco.

This post has been updated to clarify Penny Lee remains president of Venn Strategies.

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