By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 21, 2008
British communications giant Brunswick Group is opening a Washington office headed by Hilary Rosen and her thick Rolodex of Democratic power players, which Brunswick hopes will be valuable as corporations seek to do business with a Democratic administration and Congress.
Rosen is the music industry's former top lobbyist, a television and Web political commentator, a communications consultant and a longtime Democratic operative.
She will be managing partner in Brunswick's D.C. office, which will be located on K Street.
"My life has been great over this past year; I've been really focused on doing political reporting and commentary," said Rosen, who works for CNN and the Huffington Post. "But Washington is so different now, and I think since I started as a public policy wonk, the idea of playing in the new Washington seemed really exciting to me."
Rosen was chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America -- the trade group of the big music companies -- from 1987 to 2003. She saw the industry's rise, consolidation and beginning of its Napster-initiated decline.
Before that she worked for a number of Democratic politicians including former Sen. Bill Bradley (N.J.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). In 1990 Rosen helped found the Rock the Vote campaign to increase youth voter registration.
At Brunswick, Rosen said she wants to build communications campaigns and strategies for clients focusing on such issues as health care, energy and education. For instance, Rosen said: "I think the same old enemies of health-care [reform] from the early days can't afford to be enemies anymore. Health-care [reform] is going to happen and you need to get on the train and figure out how to help make it happen."
Rosen has run her own consulting business since leaving the music industry, working for clients including media conglomerate Viacom.
She will give up her job as Huffington Post political editor but will remain involved with the Web site and CNN.
"Events of the past three months underscore how critical Washington is to the business community," Steve Lipin, Brunswick's senior U.S. partner, said in a statement. "Hilary Rosen has built a reputation as one of the most effective business and political advocates and as someone who truly knows how to get things done in Washington."
As an illustration of Rosen's Washington juice, she will celebrate her 50th birthday tomorrow night at a party whose hosts include former vice president Al Gore and his wife, Tipper; Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) and Democratic strategist and former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile.
Time Warner Chairman Richard D. Parsons, who worked with Rosen when she led the music lobby and Time Warner owned a record label, called Rosen "a smart girl."
"I would say she's a Washington insider," Parsons said in an interview yesterday. "It's hard to import someone with the skills you need into that marketplace. You need a couple of years to get up to speed, to see who's who and what's what."
Rosen's hiring marks the first foray into Washington by Brunswick, which has offices in 14 other cities around the world including Brussels, London, Beijing, Vienna and New York and is known for handling communications for firms involved in mergers and acquisitions. Time Warner is a client.