Further job cuts as agencies wrestle with fluctuating PR budgets

NEW YORK: The bloodletting continued last week with four major

agencies and a handful of smaller shops making job cuts - most

highlighting the continuing decline of the tech market and the

aftershock from the events of September 11.



Hill & Knowlton made cuts in its hi-tech arm, Blanc & Otus. The 12

staffers cut from Boston, San Francisco, and New York leaves the

division with 90 employees scattered between the three offices. Greg

Spector, president and CEO of the firm, said five employees in San

Francisco and two on the East Coast are working four-day weeks to

prevent further layoffs.



Brodeur Worldwide, which helped build its tech reputation with 13 years

of service to client IBM, was forced to lay off nine employees from the

Stamford, CT, and Boston offices in further fallout from IBM's $50 million PR reshuffle.



"It's balancing staff and client demand," said Andrea Carney, Brodeur

CEO. "Clients are not going away, but they're really shifting their

budgets on us up and down on a quarterly basis. I won't promise I won't

have to make any more layoffs."



In Washington, DC, Fenton Communications reduced its staff by 10%, or

six employees, to compensate for a loss in clients since September

11.



The employees were both senior and junior staff, from VP to account

coordinator.



Several other jobs will remain unfilled for the time being, including an

SVP slot. Agency founder David Fenton blamed the slowdown on the

difficulty of breaking through a crisis-saturated media. "It's hard to

compete with anthrax," he said.



Porter Novelli also cut two staffers in its LA tech group, while Stanton

Crenshaw cut five people across its New York and California offices.



KVO, owned by Fleishman-Hillard, shut its doors in Mountain View,

CA.



It was not known at press time whether the affected staffers would be

offered other jobs within KVO or at Fleishman. KVO CEO Sharon VanSickle

said the closure was planned, but accelerated by the economy.



Agency CEOs agreed that the media relations, public affairs, and tech

areas are suffering most.



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