Hill & Knowlton: Agency Business Report 2011

Hill & Knowlton underwent sweeping changes in 2010 and early 2011, but its new leaders claim the H&K-Public Strategies union will lead to a best-in-class global firm.

Principals: Jack Martin, global chairman and CEO (r); Dan Bartlett, US president and CEO
Ownership: WPP
Subsidiary agencies: Public Strategies, Blanc & Otus, Wexler Walker Public Policy Associates, Piranha Kid
Offices: 82 wholly owned globally; 17 in the US
Revenue: Global: $300 million to $400 million; US: $100 million to $200 million

Hill & Knowlton underwent sweeping changes in 2010 and early 2011, but its new leaders claim the H&K-Public Strategies union will lead to a best-in-class global firm.
 
WPP announced in fall 2010 that the two agencies would merge. Less than two months later, it was announced that global chairman and CEO Paul Taaffe, chair and director of the worldwide marcomms practice MaryLee Sachs, and CMO Tony Burgess-Webb were leaving the firm.
 
Jack Martin, Public Strategies' founder, now sits at the helm of H&K as global chair and CEO, while Public Strategies president and CEO Dan Bartlett leads H&K US.
 
Both leaders say that, after a tough 2010, the firm is on track to report growth.
 
"We have a great heritage," says Martin. "The challenge going forward is to make sure we're on the cutting edge of what is needed in the future."
 
The firm doesn't provide revenue, citing Sarbanes-Oxley, but Ken Luce, a Weber Shandwick veteran who was named global COO at H&K in January 2011, says global revenue was up while the US reported flat results in 2010.
 
Public Strategies, a business consultancy that operates in the US and Mexico City, had double-digit growth last year, notes Bartlett.
 
"2010 was one of Public Strategies' best years in its 20-year history," he adds.
 
Powerful combination
One area of potential growth for the combined H&K-Public Strategies offering is the ability to cross-sell opportunities, including bringing Public Strategies' research capabilities, under Peter Zandan's direction, to H&K's current and potential clients.
 
Retaining talent is another major focus for the firm, says Martin. It brought in new leaders such as Luce and digital head Andrew Bleeker, but also promoted a number of H&K employees to leadership roles.
 
"I want a culture where we recruit talent from the outside when we need to, like Ken Luce, but at the same time, we've got a very vibrant process and are proud of what we have at H&K," Martin adds.
 
SVP Chris Gidez has been tapped to lead a new corporate crisis offering. The firm also promoted London-based Alison Eyles-Owen, a global VP and client service head, to lead the marcomms function. Amanda Groty, head of H&K's EMEA tech practice, is responsible for global business development. Other appointments include SVP Duncan Burns to lead the firm's global energy practice, Zandan to vice chairman and global practice leader for research, and Ruth Clark as global chief talent director.
 
"Those reflect a real global approach to our new talent structure," says Martin.
 
Other significant hires for the firm in 2010 included Dan McIntyre, worldwide director of healthcare, and Charles Sewell, SVP and public affairs practice leader.
 
Account news
H&K stopped working with Feld Entertainment, Advanced Technology Services, and Seattle Children's Hospital. Wins included Avery Dennison, Dos Equis, Dolby, Emirates, and, most recently, LG Display.
 
Looking forward, Luce says global revenue in Q1 2011 grew. In particular, he notes H&K has converted new business opportunities in Europe, Asia, and the US.

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