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PR honcho Abby Lovett exits Leo Burnett

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Leo Burnett's already extraordinarily thinly-staffed public relations department has taken another hit. Chicago-based Abby Lovett, who was in charge of Burnett's global public relations effort, is leaving the agency to take a PR job in the Chicago office of Weber Shandwick, where she will work on cherries (trade association stuff, most likely) and Campbell's soup, she told us. That leaves Burnett with exactly one PR representative in Chicago, the pleasant Steve Peckham. But he isn't a Burnetter. Peckham is technically a consultant from PR firm Edelman who has been working at Burnett since May, while the ad agency takes its sweet time finding a full-time PR staffer to replace the less-than-stellar one that was fired last January.

We were told a while ago a new PR person was supposed to take over for Peckham in mid-June, but obviously that didn't happen. And there appears to be no definitive date now for when Burnett will manage to find a new PR leader for its Chicago flagship shop. "They want to get the right fit," Lovett said. Lovett also told us the agency intends to fill her job.

After nearly a five-year tour of duty, Lovett leaves Burnett at a particularly difficult moment in the agency's history. New business has been slow in coming, and the agency's image was battered recently by an alleged billing scandal on the United States Army account, which left the agency a while ago. Even the win of the Choice Hotels International creative account this week has become another reason for anonymous comment posters on blogs to suggest how the once-mighty Burnett has fallen. Many observers seem to doubt that any Burnetter would, of their own volition, ever spend a night in a Choice Hotels budget property.

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We're happy to have Abby here at WS!

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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