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Charleston native starts D.C.-based political consulting firm

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston native Cartney McCracken has two passions in her life: politics and fashion.

The 27-year-old said her bachelor's degree in fashion marketing from West Virginia University has been an asset when it comes to the political consulting side of her work.

While she earned her master's in integrated marketing communications, McCracken landed her "dream job" in 2009 at Rainmaker Inc., a Democratic political consulting firm in Charleston.

She served as the social media strategist and client relations manager at Rainmaker for three years.

"If we have a candidate that needs something image-wise, such as what do they wear, what ties look best on camera, then I can figure that out," McCracken said.

Today, Rainmaker is a creative partner to Control Point Group, McCracken's new national political consulting firm. McCracken and business partner Chad Gosselink teamed up to create a firm where "the sky is the limit," she said.

Control Point Group -- an integrated political consulting firm that focuses on political campaigns, public affairs and issue advocacy -- launched Jan. 1.

The Washington D.C.-based company's services include telephone, direct mail, digital (online advertising, social media, website design and blogging), as well as broadcast (television and radio).

McCracken said most firms in D.C. specialize in one particular area, but Control Point Group will provide clients with much more.

Gosselink's previous business, Zata|3, --  a Democratic national issue advocacy firm, which dissolved at the end of 2012 after a 13-year partnership -- specialized in phone services.

At Rainmaker, McCracken said she did everything from logo designs to copyrighting to radio spots.

"People say they wear many different hats everyday but I say I wear a lot of different heels in the day," she said.

But the West Virginia firm didn't use phones for campaigns.

She said she is "pleased we could marry [our skills] together."

"It made sense to us to just form our own integrated political consultancy firm and offer a whole menu of services instead of just focusing on one," McCracken said. "Anyone who walks into our office, their brand is cohesive. Congressional ratings are at an all-time low so any communications with constituents going forward, we think, is critical to maintain some cohesive communications for any of our clients."

McCracken said transitioning clients from Zata|3 to Control Point Group has been "smooth." The firm has more than 400 clients in more than 40 states.

William Miller -- who formerly worked at Zata|3 as a liaison with congressional staff -- also made a straightforward move to his new position at Control Point Group. Miller serves as senior associate.

Both McCracken and Gosselink have been honored with Campaigns & Elections magazine's Reed Awards, "the Oscars of political consulting," she said, for their work at Rainmaker and Zata|3, respectively.

The pair first met at the awards ceremony last year and then decided to get together at the Democratic National Convention in September.

After they started dating, the couple vacationed in Maui where they decided over dinner, "let's do this," she said.

"We decided to start our own firm because we saw an opportunity, we said we're going to snatch it and we did," McCracken said. "I can't imagine being in any other industry. I know what I was born to do, for sure."

McCracken said she has always wanted to live in D.C. Her role model is Hillary Clinton and she said she is inspired everyday walking around Capitol Hill.

Control Point Group's office is located on Capitol Hill in the former Zata|3 space.

On Monday, the firm is hosting a "Break the Ice" inauguration and company kickoff event.

McCracken said the firm is working hard to get the company name out there since it is so new. She plans to start blogging again on her "Politico in Stilettos" blog, which watches local and national political scenes with a "fashionista" sensibility.

But so far, she said the team has been "very lucky everything has worked out."

"We will be one of the best innovated political consulting firms in the nation," McCracken said. "I have a huge love for South America and I want to run campaigns there. We're trying to go national first and then we'll go international."

To learn more about Control Point Group, visit http://www.controlpointgroup.com or call 202-350-0110.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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