Gates Foundation expands global work with Weber Shandwick

SEATTLE: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expanded its work with Weber Shandwick, awarding the firm its global communications business after a competitive bid.

SEATTLE: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expanded its work with Weber Shandwick, awarding the firm its global communications business after a competitive bid.

The firm began work on the account June 1. Melissa Milburn, deputy director of media relations for the foundation, said by e-mail that Weber Shandwick was selected because of the firm's "global reach."

Brian Tjugum of Weber Shandwick's London office was named global client relationship leader for the foundation, which he said is now one of the agency's top 20 clients.

Tjugum said he will split his time between Seattle and London. In addition, staff from the firm's Washington, New York, and Brussels offices will work on the account. He declined to provide the total budget for the firm's work.

“The work has been geographically separate,” Tgugum told PRWeek. “And now we're trying to consolidate the global teams from Seattle to New York to London in a more cohesive way that supports the program's central communications function.”

The Gates Foundation hired Kate James as chief communications officer in November 2009 following the departure of Heidi Sinclair in February of that year.

Weber Shandwick began working with the Gates Foundation in 2008 on its global development business, which aims to address poverty and hunger. In 2009, it began to work on the foundation's global health business in Europe. The global health division addresses diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, as well as broader health issues like family planning, smoking, and nutrition.

The foundation continues to work with GMMB on its US program, which focuses on education.

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