Bartlett takes top comms role at Walmart; H+K names Weitz US CEO

NEW YORK: Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett is set to leave his role as president and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies US to become EVP of corporate affairs at Walmart.

NEW YORK: Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett is set to leave his role as president and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies US to become EVP of corporate affairs at Walmart.

With the move, the former key adviser to President George W. Bush will take on the top communications role at the Bentonville, AR-based retail giant, filling the spot vacated by Leslie Dach. Walmart said in March that Dach, who worked at the company for seven years, would leave his post in June.

Bartlett will begin work at Walmart in late June, reporting to president and CEO Mike Duke, and will serve as a member of its executive council. He will oversee external communications, government relations, sustainability, and the Walmart Foundation, the company said in a statement.  

Bartlett joined Public Strategies as a senior strategist in October 2007 after previously serving as a counselor to President George W. Bush. He oversaw strategic communications planning and policy formulation and was in charge of the press office and the office of communications, media affairs, and speechwriting during his tenure in the White House. Bartlett first worked for Bush during his 1994 run for governor of Texas.

He was promoted to Public Strategies president and CEO in March 2009. After his agency merged with sister WPP Group firm Hill & Knowlton more than a year later, Bartlett became president and CEO of H&K USA.

With Bartlett's departure, the firm promoted Andy Weitz to US president and CEO. H+K named Weitz global co-chair of its corporate practice alongside Andrew Laurence last October. He previously served as COO.

Weitz, who will be based in Austin, TX, said the firm has developed momentum with several significant business wins this year and he hopes to continue that through the summer and the rest of 2013. He added that one of his goals for the firm is to effectively communicate business value to clients.

“We have to be expert communicators, but put it into business context so [clients] understand the impact we have on their bottom line,” Weitz said.

Prior to H+K, Weitz was a senior strategist at agency predecessor Public Strategies, where he helped to lead the firm's integration with Hill & Knowlton in 2011. He also served as president of gDev, a part of software company Trilogy, for less than a year. Weitz also worked at Trilogy in other roles and served as an aide to former US Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE).

The WPP Group firm also named nine-year agency veteran Danner Bethel US COO. He previously served as an EVP, assisting with US operations.

The moves come after two quarters of disappointing financial numbers for WPP's PR and public affairs group. The unit saw a 4.1% like-for-like drop in revenue in the first quarter of 2013 to about $341.7 million. For full-year 2012, WPP's PR and public affairs sector was down 1% compared with the prior year. The holding company also owns and operates Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy Public Relations, and Cohn & Wolfe, among others.

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