CLS News
May 11, 2017

CLS Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based mid-sized strategic communications firm is currently seeking applicants for Senior Vice President.

CLS Strategies serves a range of clients focusing on public affairs, crisis and legal issues, and international matters. Our clients include Fortune 100 corporations, trade associations, foreign governments, international organizations and non-profits. Some are in the midst of regulatory and legislative challenges, or high-stakes litigation. Others are facing government investigations or reputational threats. Many of the firm’s clients come from the financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors. All are looking for creative solutions at the intersection of politics, public policy and communications.

Responsibilities of a Senior Vice President include:
•    Lead strategic planning and manage account teams for multiple clients
•    Manage client business relationships and work to sustain and grow engagement
•    Support the firm’s business development, specifically through assisting with assigned opportunities, and through the candidate’s own leads (a requirement of our SVP role)
•    Oversee and provide quality and strategy control over all client team activities, ranging from media relations, alliance development, coalition and campaign management, digital strategy, and content development. 

Qualified candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of experience in public affairs, political, corporate or crisis communications, are driven, self-starters with the ability to grasp complex subject matter quickly. Candidates must possess prior management experience that includes full campaign planning, budgeting, media relations, and proposal writing. CLS Strategies is a company that prides itself in providing hands-on senior-level service.

CLS Strategies offers a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits package that includes:
•    401(k) plan with employer match
•    Incentives for new business generation
•    Employer-subsidized medical/dental insurance
•    Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
•    Optional Life and AD&D Benefits
•    Paid vacation and sick time
•    Paid holidays
•    Employee stock purchase plan
•    Gym membership
•    And much more

If you thrive on the challenge of finding solutions to complex challenges and want to join our team, please send your resume to careers@clsstrategies.com with “SVP” in the subject line.  Visit www.clsstrategies.com for more information.

CLS Strategies. We don’t just raise the issue. We raise the game.


Mollie Birer is a senior at The George Washington University (GWU) majoring in communications and minoring in fine arts and journalism & mass communications. She is originally from south Florida, and chose to attend GWU for the internship experiences it offers (like this one!). During her time at GWU, she also studied abroad in Sydney, Australia for a semester. 

Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

Surprisingly, a class I took in seventh grade called Media Literacy. Taking that class is when I became interested in the digital world, and ultimately proved to be the reason why I chose to major in communications and pursue a career in it. I found the effects of the media fascinating and wanted to learn more.

What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals? 

To learn as much as I possibly can! Gaining knowledge has helped shape and drive my career ambitions. One day, I want to be able to pass on all the knowledge I have gained by successfully teaching others and coming up with successful campaigns for clients. 

What are your long-term career goals?

To become an executive at a large PR firm with an international presence.

What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals? 

That no internship or company is the same and all opportunities possess their own challenges and benefits.

Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

My interest in public relations is directly related to the digital world. I think it’s very interesting how the digital world has completely changed public relations and communications. Additionally, it has given public relations firms more opportunities that weren’t possible before. 

What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies? 

Since I’ve done press clips at a previous internship, they came easily at CLS. I already knew how to properly format press clips and how to use Google News effectively.

What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

Learning the important things about each client. Every client is different, with their own unique issues, so knowing what is most important about every client is challenging. I’ve addressed it by doing outside research on the clients and asking the Associates questions!

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

There is always something new to see and do!

On our website we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

1.    I’ve been skydiving twice.
2.    I love black olives.
3.    I’ve given a speech in front of Hilary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.

 


CLS News
April 20, 2017

(Well, To The Yale Club in New York for the PR News’ Social Media Awards)
 
That’s because this year, our digital team – led by Managing Director Tim Hogan, Managing Associate Jacqueline Silseth, and Senior Associate Dan Smith – has been named a finalist for the PR News Best Social Media Team award.
 
On May 2, they’ll join the leading digital professionals in politics, public affairs, public relations, non-profits, and the private sector for an awards banquet celebrating the best and brightest from around the country.
 
In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, the CLS digital team has stood out for its creativity, the quality of its production, and its service for clients in wide array of industries – and they have been widely recognized as leaders in the field. A three-time winner at the AVA Digital 2016 Awards (Platinum and Gold), recent additional past awards include AVA Digital’s 2015 Platinum Award, MarCom’s 2014 Gold Award, and two 2014 PR Daily Digital PR & Social Media Awards (Honorable Mentions). CLS Strategies – in partnership with client Airlines for America – was also named a finalist for the 2016 Shorty Awards.   

It goes beyond awards. Whether helping the Computer & Communications Industry Association educate taxpayers about the IRS Free File program, which recently surpassed 50 million users; creating the #Whywefly, #TheFlyLife, and T/Here campaigns for Airlines For America, guiding them to a nearly four-fold growth in engagement over the past two years; or serving as the driving force behind the promotion of the 7th Annual Champagne Day for The Champagne Bureau (the official U.S. representative of the Comité Champagne), which generated 32.2 million views on Twitter, and a 24 percent growth in Instagram followers, the CLS digital team has gotten results. 

“More and more, leading companies, brands, and trade associations rely on digital strategy to help them get their message to both consumers and those in the corridors of power,” said CLS Strategies Partner Juan Cortiñas. “We are pleased that the CLS Strategies digital team is being recognized as one of the best in the business, and know that our clients can continue to count on them to see success.” 


April 7, 2017

President Donald Trump’s row with Mexico has not only set back relations with our southern neighbor, it is undermining the standing of the United States throughout the Americas. It occurs at a time when cooperation on issues like migration, organized crime and trade has been at an all time high, and the region has shifted away from the statist, anti-American positions marked by the Venezuelan government-inspired ALBA bloc. Such collaboration is suddenly in jeopardy, with troubling consequences for U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

Favorable opinion of the United States in the Americas had risen markedly in recent years. In Mexico, for example, fewer than half of Mexicans had a favorable opinion of the United States in 2008—the year President Barack Obama was elected. Seven years later, two-thirds did. President Obama’s calls for partnership with Latin American governments, the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, support for Colombia’s peace process, and increased assistance to Central America to address the violent crime and poverty that fuel illegal migration helped to build a reservoir of good will and collaboration over matters of national interest for the United States.

This constructive approach coincided with the recent emergence of new leaders in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Peru that solidified a growing regional desire for the rule of law and market economies and a closer alignment with the United States.

As a result, the Trump administration inherited a Western Hemisphere that, with a few exceptions, was ideologically aligned and accustomed to working with the U.S. on critical issues, such as trade, energy, migration, and drug trafficking.

That political will is already dissipating, however. After the continued dispute over payment for a U.S. border wall and threats to impose taxes on Mexican imports prompted Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel his visit to the White House, Latin American governments and their citizens are becoming increasingly wary of the new administration.

Friendly Latin American leaders, including the presidents of Colombia and Peru, are now lining up in solidarity with Mexico against the Trump administration. Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in an appearance with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, noted in reference to Mexico: “Right now one of us is facing serious difficulties that are not of its own making. We have to stand together on our ideals, on global trade which has done us so much good.”

Santos echoed the sentiment, urged the region (with one neighbor clearly in mind) to adhere to “principles that have been so good for the world,” including free trade, respect for treaties and multilateral solutions.

Trump’s disrespect for Mexico’s president and its people has also managed to give the discredited and increasingly isolated leader of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, an opportunity to look like a regional statesman. Shortly after the blowup, Maduro tried to take advantage of the tensions with Mexico to ingratiate himself with Peña Nieto and isolate the United States by declaring, “If you pick on Mexico, you’re picking on Venezuela.”

The return of an antiquated North-South divide in hemispheric relations comes at a particularly inopportune time. The U.S. needs regional support to manage serious challenges in the Americas, such as Maduro’s authoritarian misrule in Venezuela, transnational criminal activity and rising discontent over cooling economies.

In Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves but suffers from severe shortages of food and medicine, a flagging dialogue between the government and opposition will never succeed without greater international pressure. That requires U.S. leadership and capacity to mobilize Venezuela’s neighbors. Trump’s hostility toward migrants and bullying of the press, judges and his political opponents has already undercut America’s standing as a champion of democracy and human rights, but the quarrel with Mexico will make it even more difficult for U.S. diplomats to persuade countries to align with the U.S. to defend democratic norms—not just in Venezuela but elsewhere, such as Nicaragua.

The U.S. will also need cooperation from countries in the Americas to combat the criminal organizations engaging in a range of nefarious activities, from drug trafficking to illegal mining to human trafficking. Given lingering resentment over past U.S. interventions, receiving U.S. security support and assistance is a delicate political balancing act for many countries; it will become even more so if the U.S. again becomes a political pariah in the region.

It is not too late, however, for the Trump Administration to mend relations with Mexico and attempt to recover America’s standing in the region. The first step is for the White House to allow Mexico experts at the State Department and on the National Security Council (NSC) staff who have thus far been marginalized to take the lead in developing a government-wide approach that reflects the long-term interests of both countries.

And while there is a good argument for updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the groundwork for such negotiations should be laid respectfully and quietly. Similarly, migration is a fitting topic for discussion with Mexico; such talks can begin by discussing how the United States can continue to support Mexico’s efforts to lawfully contain the flow of illegal migration of Central Americans transiting through Mexico on their way to the United States.

As the Trump Administration confronts global challenges such as the Islamic State, saber rattling North Korea, and Russian aggression, Americans can be comforted that our own hemisphere is largely stable, peaceful and friendly. The first step toward keeping it that way is to restore respectful relations with a country with which we share a 2000-mile border and whose security and economic prospects are deeply intertwined with our own.


CLS News
April 6, 2017

CLS Strategies today announced that Mark Feierstein, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, has joined the firm as a Senior Advisor. Feierstein is an accomplished foreign policy expert who brings decades of political, public affairs, opinion research and policy experience to bolster the firm’s offerings.  Feierstein’s vast experience working with foreign governments and his deep knowledge about the impact public policy has on business will strengthen the firm’s ability to serve both private and public sector clients. 

 “For nearly 25 years, CLS Strategies has counseled political campaigns abroad and helped foreign governments communicate in Washington, and we believe Mark’s diverse communications and policy experiences are a perfect complement to our work,” said CLS Strategies Partner Juan Cortiñas. “We are excited that Mark is joining our team, as he has developed a reputation on both sides of the aisle as an expert who can deliver results, whether he’s serving a President or working with a client.”

In addition to his work on the National Security Council, Feierstein oversaw the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) programming in the Americas as Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, and served as USAID's acting Deputy Administrator. Feierstein is also a former Principal at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, where he was a leading strategist for winning national campaigns in Austria, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Honduras, and designed communications strategies for a number of major multinational companies. During the Clinton Administration, he served as Senior Adviser to the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, as well as Director of USAID's global elections office. 

“In Washington and around the globe, CLS Strategies is known as a group of engaged, highly skilled strategists who know how to win when the stakes are highest, and I’m proud to be a part of their efforts,” said CLS Senior Advisor Mark Feierstein. “Throughout my career, I’ve always worked with professionals at the top of their field, and the team at CLS Strategies is among the best in the business.” 

“Our clients have come to expect thoughtful, creative solutions to their most serious challenges, and we’re confident that Mark will help us continue to not only meet but exceed those expectations,” said CLS Strategies Partner Andrew Koneschusky. “From the Oval Office to the board room, Mark’s advice and counsel is sought after and respected. We looking forward to him joining our growing team of world-class strategy and communications professionals.”