HP picks Edelman for $14 million product and corporate comms brief

HP is ending its relationships with Omnicom-owned PR agencies FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli, the latter after 28 years.

PALO ALTO, CA: HP selected Edelman for its $14 million product and corporate communications work, one of the biggest accounts to come up for pitch in the Bay Area for some time.

Last fall, Hewlett-Packard split into two companies: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc., with the former selling services, storage, and networking equipment and the latter focused on PCs and printers.

Since then, Edelman has worked with HP on a wide range of global digital and social programs and has performed "exceptionally well," Karen Kahn, HP chief communications officer and head of communications, brand, and events, told PRWeek via email.

The comms budget is worth $14 million. However, Edelman's social media work, which sits under a separate budget, pushes the entire account's worth to $22 million, Kahn said.

Kahn explained that the lines between non-traditional and traditional communications are blurring. To ensure HP is on the cutting edge of communications, the company is implementing a strategy that unifies and aligns its PR, content, and digital/social programming.

"The result is we are consolidating our agency partners that support these functions," Kahn said. "Our goal is powerful, authentic communication that reaches and influences the market whether we are using paid or unpaid programming."

As a result of HP’s decision, the company is ending its relationships with its core PR agencies FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli. Kahn said HP has had a "longstanding and valued relationship" with both firms.

Most of HP’s transition to Edelman will be complete by December 2016, she added.

"Porter Novelli has been honored to work with HP for 28 years, one of the longest tech company/agency relationships in Silicon Valley," Brad MacAfee, Porter Novelli CEO, told PRWeek via email. "We have valued this relationship and the opportunity to communicate HP’s innovation, breakthrough technologies, and exciting products and services to the market." 

He added that Porter respects HP’s decision to expand its agency relationships and wishes the company continued success.

FleishmanHillard CEO John Saunders said, "While we are disappointed in the outcome of the agency review, we have great pride in the work we have accomplished together with HP in the past year."

Earlier this month, HP asked its agencies, including its PR firms and advertising shops such as BBDO, Fred & Farid, and Gyro, to increase the number of women and people of color in leadership positions.

In a letter obtained by PRWeek in early September, HP CMO Antonio Lucio gave the agencies one month to come up with a plan to increase diversity and one year to begin implementing the plan.

"We can't control agencies, but [with] the kind of budgets we have in marketing and PR, we can influence with the spend we have," Kahn told PRWeek at the time. "The best way we can have impact is to change ourselves and work with our agencies to change."

Kahn joined HP last December. Before that, she was VP, corporate marketing and communication for Broadcom, according to her LinkedIn page. HP also brought on Vanessa Yanez as head of corporate communications in February, after a five-year stint at Fleishman.

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