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GOP Campaign Vet Leaves CRAFT Media/Digital to Start a Firm Focused Outside the "Partisan Arena"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, February 29 2012

Longtime GOP digital and communications strategist Michael Turk is branching out on his own after having spent the past two years with his partners and colleagues at the Republican-leaning political media consulting firm CRAFT.

Named Opinion Mover Strategies, Turk's new firm officially launches on Thursday, and it's going to be involved in issue advocacy and public policy. The firm will focus on telecommunications, energy and defense. Turk has worked at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and his wife April Wade, who will be joining him, has a background in the energy industry. Also joining them will be CRAFT's account executive Bryan Pick. Jon Henke, another partner and alum of CRAFT, will work with Turk independently on projects. Turk's last day at CRAFT was Friday.

Turk had founded CRAFT with his colleagues with the thought that the team's combined skill set of video production, direct mail campaigns and social media and blogger outreach would provide corporations, political campaigns and trade groups with one-stop shop for marketing. But what the company found was that "some clients wanted to keep their efforts separate from the partisan arena."

Turk was an Internet advisor to former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson for his 2008 bid for the Republican nomination for president. He was also the e-campaign director for President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, and the e-campaign director at the Republican National Committee.

"[Clients] like having someone with campaign experience, but at the same time, they're kind of leery of being involved with people picking fights with the other side," he said. "I hear a lot of: 'Hey, I really like the work that you do, but we really can't be involved with someone doing this Barack Obama hit ad.'"

The parting was amicable, said Brian Donahue, another partner at CRAFT.

"Michael Turk is a good friend, and continues to be a good friend of CRAFT and the team," he said. "He had very specific issue-focused clients that he's going to spin out into his own firm, and it doesn't really impact our business at CRAFT. CRAFT is continuing to grow."

Turk said that he's going to focus on communications strategies that will "help clients tell their stories in the communities where they do business."

A former contributor to techPresident, Turk has a strong sense of humor. In our January 2012 Year Ahead piece for example, he sarcastically wrote about the coming year: "I'm psyched; super optimistic. With the end of the world less than a year away -- according to the Mayans, at least -- we'll have super fast access to live tweeting and Facebook status updates detailing the collapse of global society. That is, until the networks fail and leave us in the dark. Who wouldn't be excited about that?"

Turk also was the originator of the Sarah Palin facts meme.

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