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Home » Watson and Gill leave Redstart to launch Sunny Side Creative; KO Public Affairs merges with Sandy Hillman Communications

Watson and Gill leave Redstart to launch Sunny Side Creative; KO Public Affairs merges with Sandy Hillman Communications

by | Mar 29, 2024

Two creative professionals who previously worked together at Baltimore agency Redstart Creative have branched out to launch their own firm, Sunny Side Creative.

Elisa Watson, left in photo, served as creative director at Redstart from 2016 to 2023 and Jessica Gill held the role of content director from 2021 to 2023. The new creative boutique specializes in branding, content, design, strategic marketing/communications and website development.

“We align with people and mission-driven organizations who are invested in making this world a better place,” said Gill. “Our commitment to making others shine is what makes Sunny Side Creative stand out.”

They bring a combined 35 years of experience working within higher education, nonprofit organizations, creative agencies, small businesses, and major medical institutions. Prior to Redstart, Watson had design roles at Ainsley & Co., the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, MedStar Health and Eisner Communications.

Gill spent over a decade in communications positions at the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins before joining Redstart. She has also provided interim communications support for nonprofits and universities including George Washington University.

KO Public Affairs LLC, a leading Maryland public affairs and government relations firm, has merged with Sandy Hillman Communications, a full-service public relations and consumer marketing firm also based in Baltimore. The combination of the two firms enhances and expands KO’s footprint beyond public affairs into consumer marketing.

Hillman has long been a lifestyle PR leader, representing a variety of industries from Fortune 500 brands to visionary startups, restaurants, world-class museums, and travel destinations.

“Sandy Hillman is a civic and industry leader in Maryland, nationally and internationally,” said Steve Kearney, managing partner and co-founder of KO Public Affairs. “After building KO for 16 years, we’re thrilled to partner with Sandy and her team to take our combined firm to the next level.”

“After working together for almost a decade, we are finally formally integrating our two firms,” said Sandy Hillman. “This merger combines KO’s local and regional expertise with Hillman’s national footprint. We are seeing a growing number of businesses and non-profits needing a combination of consumer outreach and public affairs counsel. This merger provides that full complement of strategic communications services.”

The combined firm will be managed by Kearney. Rick Abbruzzese, Partner, KO Public Affairs, will oversee the integration of the firms with Elisabeth “Liz” Feldman, senior vice president, serving as the Head of the Consumer Marketing and Public Relations division within the combined firm.

About the Author

Jeffrey Davis

Jeffrey A. Davis, APR has more than 25 years of news media and national public relations experience and heads J. Davis Public Relations, LLC, a PR and social media consultancy. A three-time PRSA Maryland president, he serves as Maryland regional editor for the Capitol Communicator and is co-founder of Podville Media in D.C. where he co-hosted the "Practically Social" podcast. Jeff is the regional representative of the national Public Relations Consultants Group (PRCG). He began his career as a reporter at daily newspapers in Ohio, New Jersey and at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

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