The Hill Gets a New Publicity Team

If you’re a reporter covering the media you may have noticed new pitches flowing in for The Hill from Elizabeth Luke at High10 Media, a New York-based communications agency that also reps The Hollywood Reporter, Norman Lear‘s People for the American Way, NatGeo Network, Time Inc., Adweek, A&E Networks and Simon Cowell. The Hill has notoriously not had a publicist in a good while ever since Tricia Barba left the role in 2011 after about a year. Before Barba, they went years without a publicist. In January 2012 they brought on Megan McCourt as an editorial assistant to handle social media.

Now they’re giving High10 Media a try.

It’s hardly surprising that the publication would secure a New York-based firm considering The Hill‘s hands-on owner, Jimmy Finkelstein, resides in Manhattan. But what is a little confusing is that they’re not actually letting Luke autonomously speak to the media. When I asked her questions about whether she will serve in an actual role of spokeswoman, ironically she never replied, despite saying repeatedly in her emails, “Feel free to contact me with questions.” Editor Hugo Gurdon also did not reply to simple, basic questions we sent yesterday.

So who is actually speaking for The Hill? That would be High10 Media CEO Lisa Dallos, who said Tuesday morning that she would be handling my questions, but had to talk later because she was on an airplane. She explained quickly by email, “We were retained by The Hill to help promote its editorial and business interests — stories, events, special reports, and so forth. We work very closely with the client, in terms of what gets promoted. Elizabeth is part of the HIGH10 team working on the account.” On the subject of Luke, she said, “Elizabeth works with me, I run High10 Media, I oversee all the work with The Hill. I am the one to speak to.”

I told Dallos that Luke not being able to talk seems fishy. She replied, “Funny u think this is fishy. This would be a lot better if I could talk with you when I land.” She added, “It is very straightforward and not complicated. I am the CEO of company and lead work on all our clients Elizabeth as well as other members of the high 10 team work collaboratively to fulfill our clients needs.”

Luke seems qualified to answer questions and Dallos said I could call her or Luke anytime. Before joining High10 Media, Luke spent three years at Nielsen, most recently as a corporate communications analyst. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Communications. While it appears that Luke will not serve as an actual spokeswoman for the publication, Barba’s role also did not involve commenting on the record to reporters.

In a morning phone interview with Dallos, she said she’d be handling all questions related to the editorial and business sides of the publication. “Any of those questions feel free to call me,” she said. “I think the hope to have a coordinated communication effort under the guidance of Hugo and that we would be able to properly disseminate information to media on multiple subjects, whether it’s breaking news, evergreen and on announcements of whatever kind, both on the business side and the editorial side.”

So far, Luke typically sends out one email a day featuring a story they mark as “Breaking News.” Luke’s email intro on most pitches is as follows:

Good morning, I represent The Hill at High10 Media and am sharing this breaking story with you (link and text below) because it aligns with your beat and I thought you and your readers might be interested.  If you decide to cover this story, please link to the article and credit to “The Hill.”  Feel free to contact me with questions.  Thank you!

But maybe don’t take that second to last line too seriously. That’s not exactly true.