An Award-Winning PR Team!

Oh, this just keeps getting better.

I looked at the website, to find out who at American Water is actually on this so-called “Committee.” On this page of “news” about the Committee, there are two individuals named as spokespeople, the only people named anywhere on the website, and the only two people for whom email addresses are given.

One of these guys, Richard Barnes, is listed on American Water’s home website as the External Affairs Manager for the New Jersey division of American Water. Hmmm… if an External Affairs Manager for this company wanting to work with Trenton is anything like a Community Affairs Manager, then perhaps the guy’s qualified to run for West Ward Council!

Anyway, this guy Barnes is, in other words, a corporate flack. How about the other guy, Davis Lundy?

Well, I hope you are sitting down. We are privileged to have a true professional working on the case. An Award Winner, no less. Mr. Davis Lundy is the president of The Moriah Group, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Nowhere near Trenton, but this guy gets around. In their own words,

The Moriah Group is a strategic communications and public affairs firm founded in January 1994. After 14 years, our clients continue to affirm we get results that make a difference.

Our approach is simple. We listen, think and analyze, listen some more, make informed recommendations and then execute the work with determination. Our experience has proven the right messages, clearly and consistently communicated to our client’s stakeholders, get results.

The Moriah Group works with a broad range of local and national clients. Today, our client roster includes more than 15 active engagements.   [Emphasis in the original text.]

Well, one of those clients is American Water. This is where the Award Winning part comes in. In 2006, the people of Lexington, Kentucky voted on whether the City of Lexington was to buy out the local water utility, owned by American Water, and make it public. The measure, lost by 61-39 margin. To fight that proposal, American Water hired The Moriah Group and Davis Lundy to put together a PR campaign against the proposal. It not only worked, but it won the Moriah Group an Award!

NEW YORK – The Moriah Group (TMG) is the recipient of this year’s prestigious Silver Anvil Award, sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), for its work with American Water and Kentucky American Water in Lexington, KY.

The Silver Anvil, which recognizes outstanding achievement in strategic public relations planning and implementation, was presented during the Silver Anvil Awards Evening held June 14 in New York City.

The Moriah Group received the 2007 Silver Anvil Award for its VOTE NO campaign in the Public Affairs-Business category. The four-and-a-half month VOTE NO campaign was the culmination of a 57-month effort to prevent local government in Lexington, KY, from using their power of eminent domain to take over Kentucky American Water. The four-month referendum initiative ended when voters overwhelmingly rejecting the use of eminent by a 61-39 margin.

“This was an extraordinary team effort where a group of customers stood with a company they trusted and against the misuse of eminent domain for nearly five years,” said Davis Lundy, president of the firm. “It’s a privilege to have a client committed to a project where a firm like ours can use all aspects of our business to keep the public informed, educated and engaged.” [Emphasis added by KM]

I’ll just hazard a guess to suppose that using “all aspects” of the business means, oh, establishing a phony “Committee” to make it look like you’re a local, grassroots group; mailing flyers that promise that all will be well in the City of Trenton if you just sell off those pesky suburban pipes and towers that no one really wants anyway. Heck, they’ll do Trenton a favor by taking them off our hands!

I don’t mind the Barnes and the Lundys of the world trying to make a buck. I’ve known some PR people in my time, and some of them are good people.

But, these guys have nothing to do with Trenton. They have been hired to make a case for their corporate employers and clients. They have been hired by a client who will let them use “all aspects” of their business to sell us a bill of goods. They have been hired because this is their profession; to them, this is just business. And, perhaps, another chance to earn an award.

I do not intend to let this campaign in Trenton earn The Moriah Group the 2010 Silver Anvil Award! Vote NO!

1 comment to An Award-Winning PR Team!

  • Kevin,

    Great post. Remain vigilant. We too are making our best efforts to stop the water sale. Stop the Sale is hosting a movie showing on June 1. For more info check our blog at, where we listed the notice at the top of the site. We enjoy your posts and just linked you to us. Hopefully this will get you a few more hits.