Carl Byoir's name is now PR history

LOS ANGELES: Hill & Knowlton in the US is closing the doors on one

of the oldest names in public relations, Carl Byoir & Associates, citing

"current market conditions."



The decision to close or "suspend" its activities illustrates the

difficulty H&K has had trying to revive the shop's illustrious past.

Chairman and CEO of H&K Howard Paster admitted, "The Carl Byoir brand

has a tremendously rich heritage, but it struggled to find its niche

from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s."



H&K bought the firm in the mid-'80s, and brought in new management five

years ago in an attempt to breathe new life into the firm that had once

helped shape the progress of the industry, but had recently lost its

prestige.



Paster explained that market conditions had "shrunk the pipeline of

premium business." The firm prided itself on counseling senior

management with non-traditional PR programs.



Staffers have been made redundant, and were notified of the decision on

November 1. However, H&K has reserved the right to resurrect the firm's

US operations, and made it clear that overseas operations will not be

affected. The agency will continue to operate in Sydney, Melbourne,

Milan, Brussels, and Amsterdam, though it is unclear how much weight the

name will hold without a US counterpart.



Founded in the 1930s, Carl Byoir worked for the Eastern Railroads

company and was later hired by Cuban President Machado as the country's

first PR firm. The Museum of Public Relations has carried retrospectives

of the firm.



Maureen Crow, who has managed the business since 1996, was unavailable

for comment as PRWeek went to press, but said in a statement that the

"inventory of highly strategic consulting that Byoir targets is

tremendously diminished."



H&K was unable to provide staff numbers or revenues. The agency's

figures are not broken out from H&K's.



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