Eight questions for new Weber CEO Andy Polansky

Newly appointed Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky sits down with 'PRWeek' to chat about his plans for the Interpublic Group agency.

As the new CEO of Weber Shandwick, what are your top priorities?
Well, I'll tell you, I'm really excited. It's such a dynamic time in our firm and in the business overall. Priorities aren't going to shift a whole lot. We're going to be very focused on continuing to invest in talent, and deepen our expertise across different practice areas. From an international perspective, we continue to see the business mature and become much more global, [so we will] make sure we have great resources all around the world.

It's a changing media world and a changing business world. How is Weber keeping up?
Certainly for the last couple of years, that has been a huge focus at Weber Shandwick. We've invested very heavily in scaling those types of capabilities, and that's true in a global sense. We'll continue to do that. We're in an era of engagement and we have to continue to think of ways to reach constituencies across different platforms.

Will you continue to work with clients?
Oh yeah, the hallmark of Weber Shandwick is that our senior people work on business.

Do you have any personal goals?
It's such an honor to lead Weber Shandwick. It's a great company. It's always about how do we keep on top, how do we continue to invest in great talent and inspire people around the world to do great work. It's all about the culture and continuing to foster a great collaborative culture.

Will you appoint a new agency president?
I think we have a leadership team that's been together a long time and very deep in terms of the talent. Naturally, we're always looking for different opportunities in term of the organization.

Will you look to work with other Interpublic agencies more often?
One of the things about IPG is that collaboration has always been really, really good, and I think WPP gets sometimes more notoriety because what they do is create these teams around clients, but [in terms of] integrated marketing, we were way ahead of that. Naturally, with [former Weber CEO] Harris [Diamond] moving over to McCann, he's been a great business partner. Anytime we can partner with McCann or any other IPG agencies to deliver great integrated marketing solutions for clients, we're going to do that. The culture celebrates that within the Interpublic Group companies.  

What does that say about PR?
I think it says a lot. I think it says a lot about [Diamond] and his leadership abilities, but I think it says a lot about our craft and our discipline. We talk a lot nowadays about public relations in the center of the mix; we're often the steward of the strategy and being relied more and more in the C-suite on counsel for reputation issues, so I think it says a lot about how public relations continues to rise in importance. I think that's true within the corporate communications environment on the client side, and I think it's true certainly on the agency side, as well.

Focus areas for the agency?
We have a diversified model, so our approach is to continue in invest in different practice areas. We saw a lot of growth this year in digital and social, but that's really become embedded in the core of our business and goes across the different practice areas. Consumer marketing has been a huge growth driver for us and corporate reputation, as well. I think certainly more companies are more focused on reputation issues these days. They affect valuation. Consumers are increasingly interested in the corporate issues behind the brand, so we're very focused on that. We see it as a business opportunity, but more importantly it's something that our clients are looking for strategic counsel on. 

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