By Kevin Bogardus - 02/04/14 06:00 AM EST
The communications firm Levick is accelerating its expansion into a full-service shop by launching a business intelligence practice.
The firm has brought on Eric Lebson and Ian McCaleb to lead the operation, which will offer a wide range of services, including help with federal investigations, guidance on mergers and acquisitions and advice on how to best invest overseas.
The duo adds a new dimension to Levick, which is branching out from its core business in strategic communications and public relations.
In January, Levick hired a group of lobbyists from the now-disbanded Dow Lohnes Government Strategies to start a traditional K Street practice. The firm also turned heads by bringing on former Rep. Steve Bartlett (R-Texas), once the head of the Financial Services Roundtable.
Levick President Mark Irion, an experienced Washington hand who took the helm last year, said the practice gives the firm an edge over the competition.
“As a communications company, what we believe about communicating trust is not about spinning clever messages. It’s about understanding how and why things happen, and how you build consensus for positive change. We aim to know more and be a lot smarter than our competition on how to communicate trust,” Irion said.
Lebson will be a senior vice president at the firm and lead the intelligence shop, while McCaleb will become a senior vice president.
A former National Security Council director, Lebson has experience in the Defense Department and also completed a two-year exchange position with Australia’s Department of Defense. He is also the co-founder of a risk advisory firm in Washington.
McCaleb has run his own media analysis and consulting firm. He is a former Justice Department spokesman and has worked at the Fox News Channel, CNN, Congressional Quarterly, McClatchy Newspapers and United Press International.
“When you talk about due diligence, you are talking about a client that needs enough information about an issue to make a decision,” Lebson said.
“What we are trying to do is get them that information. We are not going to replace the role of a lawyer or of an accountant. What we’re going to do is find that interesting piece of context that isn’t going to be necessarily disclosed or highlighted by a counterparty.”
Lebson said the new practice would be helpful to clients in several ways, from sifting through information about possible business partners to preparations for testifying before Congress.
“If I can beat you up here … and you then go up to the Hill and it’s a percent or two less, or 20 percent or 30 percent less, you are breathing a sigh of relief,” Lebson said.
The firm also plans to help companies deal with investigations stemming from the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
“We can look at the involved foreign parties and figure out whether or not there are red flags that would be of concern to the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Lebson said.
McCaleb said he expects his journalism experience will be an asset for the new practice.
“Our combined rolodexes give us entree to geographic areas and areas of expertise that competitors will be hard-pressed to match,” McCaleb said.