COMMUNICATIONS : 2 Public Relations Veterans Hired at Tustin-Based Company

Compiled by Anne Michaud, Times staff writer

Gloria Zigner appears to have landed on her feet. Following a crippling embezzlement discovered in April at her Costa Mesa public relations firm--an incident for which she has sued her former bookkeeper--Zigner has joined South Coast Communications Group in Tustin as a senior vice president.

Another PR veteran has also joined South Coast Communications as a senior VP. He is Owen Daley, who has been working as a consultant. The firm will move to an expanded office in the Newport Beach-Irvine-Costa Mesa area after the first of the year, President Joseph Allen said.

Allen is also offering jobs to the three people left on Zigner's staff.

"For our business, the time to take market share is just as the economy has bottomed out," said Allen, who apparently thinks that has happened. "Many of our clients are entrepreneurial, and they will have begun to smell new business out there."

The three estimate their combined audited billings to be $1.2 million.

South Coast Communications is 11 years old and specializes in investor relations, crisis communications and corporate image. Its clients are small companies with proprietary technologies, such as Alpha Microsystems in Costa Mesa and Pacific Scientific Co. in Newport Beach. It will now employ 13.

Daley, a former principal with the now-defunct Nestor Group in Torrance, concentrates on helping companies communicate with the news media.

Zigner's forte has been marketing communications, and Allen said his clients can use Zigner's expertise in launching new products. Zigner is bringing clients from her 23-year-old business, including Children's Hospital of Orange County, based in Orange; and Restaurant Enterprises Group and Red Robin International, both based in Irvine.

As for the embezzlement, Zigner said, she and the Costa Mesa police are still investigating the possibility of criminal charges. They have yet to determine how much money is missing, she said Tuesday.

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