Dell kicks off giant consolidation of PR agencies across the world

AUSTIN, TX: Dell Computer has issued an RFP that would consolidate

PR work - currently farmed out to several agencies - into one massive

account spanning North and South America. The work is said to be worth

between $2 million and $3 million per year.



At the moment, Fleishman-Hillard serves as Dell's agency of record,

mainly handling business-specific assignments. Shepardson, Stern &

Kaminsky handles some small corporate communications jobs. The work of

these agencies is not thought to be affected much by the RFP, as it

reportedly excludes corporate communications as well as IR, which are

largely handled in-house. Both agencies got the RFP, while GCI Group and

PR21 confirmed receiving it as well.



A reorganization of Dell's business units spurred the RFP, said Dwayne

Cox, who with Barry French directs the Americas communications

group.



The company previously had been divided into customer groups serving

mid-size corporations, small- to medium-size businesses, and the public

sector.



The new structure maintains such segmentation, but under a larger

geographic umbrella, Cox explained. "What we are trying to do is

consolidate, if possible, with one provider for all our agency needs,"

he said.



"We are doing everything we can to be cost-effective on PR," summarized

Elizabeth Allen, Dell's VP of corporate communications. Dell's

communication staff underwent reductions in February and May.



A final selection will be made in early September.



At the same time, Dell in Europe is seeking one lead agency to augment

the work of its existing network of 17 firms across the region.



"I have developed a kind of RFP for a handful of agencies that I am

interested in talking to for the lead agency role," said Jerele Neeld,

director of corporate communications for Dell Europe, Middle East, and

Africa. Budget details were not disclosed.



- See The Global Dilemma, p. 17.



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