INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Hehir's retirement causes reshuffle atPorter-Novelli

LONDON: Peter Hehir is stepping down as chairman of Porter Novelli

International (PNI), Porter Novelli Europe and Countrywide Porter

Novelli, the agency he founded 27 years ago.



Hehir will continue to work as a consultant to PNI's parent group,

Omnicom, and also plans to pursue pro bono projects.



'I always thought about leaving around the time of the millennium,' he

said. 'But a year ago there were a few things that we felt weren't quite

right.'



Hehir had specifically wanted to tackle improving PNI's margins and

efficiencies before retiring. 'PR agencies don't always get paid for all

they do,' he said,. 'and that has become a mission for us.'



As a result of management changes that have taken place over the past 18

months, Hehir said PNI had a record year in 2000, both in the UK and

Europe. 'The business is fundamentally run better, thanks to a big team

effort,' Hehir said.



Hehir's job will effectively be split into two parts. Neil Beckwith will

become CEO of PN Europe and join PNI's board. He has been CEO of PN UK

for 18 months. Bob Druckenmiller, PNI's CEO who is based in the US will

head up the international board.



The PR business has evolved significantly since Hehir founded

Countrywide Porter Novelli 27 years ago, but he predicts even more

changes on the horizon.



'The high ground of communications consultancy will become more

attractive to other professionals, particularly management consultants,'

he said.



Hehir predicted that the trend will polarize the PR industry, dividing

consultants who advise clients on reputation management from those who

deal primarily with communications strategy. 'It's a great time to be in

PR because the clients are beginning to get it that they need this.'



Though it may be an exciting time, Hehir has no regrets about leaving

full-time PR behind.



'It's best to go when you are winning rather than losing,' Hehir

said.



'I don't want to be one of these old guys who debates the definition of

PR around the dinner table.'



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