Houston Chronicle / Texas on the Potomac Blog

Kevin Sullivan Communications

Kevin Sullivan (a.k.a. Sully)

A few observations on the first hundreds days of the Obama administration, albeit without benefit of all the inside information I used to have:

– The White House began the big Day 100 with a successful town hall event in front of 1,100 supporters in suburban St. Louis. Going to Missouri, the only battleground state President Obama lost, was a smart call, but why do the town hall on the same day as the prime-time press conference? The WH team has done this campaign-style two-step before, holding a town hall in Elkhart, Ind. on the day of the first prime-time presser. Why cut short the shelf life of these compelling town hall events by stepping on them... +Continue Reading


Our pro teams fire so many head coaches and managers — nearly 40 in the past year alone — they really should be better at it. Take the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last November, the NBA team fired coach P.J. Carlesimo following an embarrassing 25-point home loss to the New Orleans Hornets that dropped the club to 1-12. Management made the announcement after midnight and after the team had left town for a rematch in New Orleans the next night.

I understand general manager Sam Presti’s frustration. It was another in a run of listless performances, this time in front of a Friday night sellout crowd and a national ESPN audience. And getting run out of the Ford Center with such a woeful effort had to hurt more at the hands of the Hornets, the sweethearts of Oklahoma City following... +Continue Reading


My favorite memory from the four Olympics I’ve attended wasn’t watching Michael Johnson win gold or Michael Phelps make history.  In fact, it’s not about an athlete at all.

The scene unfolded early one morning at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where I was working my first Olympics for NBC Sports. I had just passed through the metal detector on my way into the International Broadcast Center. As I gathered up my cell phone and bag, I was startled to hear an ovation ring out.

Olympians frequently came to the broadcast center after they were finished competing to do interviews with the media from their home countries. I thought maybe an Aussie hero had arrived, but I was wrong. It turns out the local security volunteers in Sydney had started a tradition. Whenever an... +Continue Reading


Kevin Sullivan, the last communications director in the Bush White House, has launched his own firm, Kevin Sullivan Communications.

He’ll also be affiliated with the public relations firm Weber Shandwick as executive vice president.

Sullivan was a spokesman at the Education Department, a senior vice president of corporate communications at NBC Universal and vice president of communications at NBC Sports. Earlier, he was named one of the NBA’s top PR guys while working for the Dallas Mavericks.

This “unique background,” from the NBA to the White House, will serve him well in counseling his clients, Sullivan told Suite Talk.

His new firm will be based in Washington, but there’s no new office. Sullivan says he’s borrowing some space at the Washington office of... +Continue Reading


Kevin Sullivan, former senior VP of corporate communications for NBC Universal and White House communications director under President George W. Bush, has hung out his own PR shingle.

He has launched Kevin Sullivan Communications, LLC, and will also be affiliated with PR firm Weber Shandwick as executive VP. He will be based in Washington.

Sullivan, whose resume also includes the Department of Education (where he was assistant secretary for communications before being tapped by the president for the White House post), NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks, will provide strategic advice on sports and entertainment, government and the non-profit sector.

Sullivan has also hit the road to speak about his journey from basketball to Washington, a trip that might well... +Continue Reading


NBC Universal alumnus and former White House Communications Director Kevin “Sully” Sullivan announced today he’s opening Kevin Sullivan Communicationsand also entering into an affiliation with Weber Shandwick as executive vice president. Sully sat down with Potomac Flacks last week in Washington and here’s what he had to say:

1. How is reentry into the private sector?

Reentry has been pretty smooth. It’s been nice to spend more time with my family and I am definitely enjoying the flexibility that comes with a less rigorous schedule. And sleeping later than 5 a.m. has been nice – although I hope to maintain some of the discipline that comes with the White House lifestyle.

2. Do you still talk to the President?

We’ve exchanged notes and the President has... +Continue Reading


A decade ago, I interviewed Kevin Sullivan on his last day as the Dallas Mavericks' vice president of communications, a job he'd held for 18 years -- since the team's inception in 1980. It seemed like a good idea to do another exit interview today, because Sullivan, pictured above with President Bush, will once more be out of a job a week from today. He will still hold the title of White House Communications Director till January 20, and there will still be work in need of finishing, but come next Friday, Sullivan will be out of the West Wing. After all, desks need to be cleaned out and walls need to be cleared off in advance of the next administration's move-in date, 11 days from now. The West Wing will need a fresh coat of paint.

In these waning days of the Bush Administration... +Continue Reading


WASHINGTON — As he introduced his new choice for secretary of health and human services in the East Room this week, President Obama turned his head from right to left, but he wasn’t looking at the audience. He was reading from two teleprompters, strategically set up outside the tight television camera shot.

When he was done, the teleprompters quietly began retracting down to the floor. As she stepped forward to make her own remarks, his nominee, Kathleen Sebelius, seemed momentarily surprised.

“Don’t mind the little—— “ Mr. Obama said with a smile.

“It’s disappearing!” she joked.

Presidents have been using teleprompters for more than half a century, but none relied on them as extensively as Mr. Obama has so far. While presidents typically have used them for... +Continue Reading


Former White House Communications Chief Kevin Sullivan says A-Rod should have admitted that he cheated and mentioned the charity he is working with more.

Listen to the episode on ESPN Radio here.

Air date: February 18, 2009

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Bush: The Difficult Decisions

In October 2006, things were not going well for George W. Bush or the Republicans. Iraq was a mess, and the fast-approaching midterm elections looked as though they would be a disaster. But the president was determined to give it his all, and that was how I found myself in suburban Detroit at a campaign rally for U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Bouchard.

I was a few months into my tenure as White House communications director — and a million miles removed from the press table at Reunion Arena, where I had been the Mavericks communications guy for almost two decades.

As the president concluded his remarks, I hustled for the motorcade. You see, just as the Mavericks team bus doesn’t wait for the PR guy, the presidential motorcade doesn’t wait... +Continue Reading