Edelman hires Katie Spring, Russ Messner to revamp financial comms

The firm is looking not only to expand its fincomms footprint, but also its marketing capabilities for financial services.

Katie Spring
Katie Spring

CHICAGO: Katie Spring, former global head of corporate communications at Citadel, joined Edelman as GM in Chicago on Monday. She is reporting to Chicago COO Kevin Cook.

Spring will also serve as Midwest leader for the firm’s financial communications specialty practice. The role’s responsibilities include mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, shareholder activism, initial public offerings, and "related special situations," the firm said in a statement.

Spring has replaced Jeff Zilka, who is transitioning to senior counselor. He will work with U.S. financial comms, investor relations, and strategic transitions clients, the agency said in a statement.

After Spring departed Citadel last August, she began renovating a Wisconsin farm to serve as a venue for concerts and other functions. Richard Edelman, the agency’s global CEO, approached her about building out the firm’s financial communications and financial services marketing capabilities, she said, adding the entrepreneurial opportunity with its regional focus on the Midwest intrigued her. Spring was an Edelman client during her tenures at Citadel and USAA.

"What we’re looking [to be is] a holistic practice that covers IR and special situations, as well as marketing for financial services companies and crises that may come up," Spring said.

Spring was chief communications officer at Citadel for almost 10 years, responsible for global external communications, brand management, and executive and employee communications, according to her IPR bio. Previously, she was SVP of corporate comms at U.S.A.A. Spring also cofounded social network Her Estate.

Edelman posted 1.7% organic revenue growth in 2016 to $875 million, its lowest organic growth figure in seven years. Three global practice leads left the firm this year.

The agency has also hired Russ Messner from Ogilvy as GM in its financial services practice. He started in the New York-based role in mid-April, reporting to recently appointed MD of corporate and public affairs David Melançon.

Edelman began beefing up its financial comms and financial services marketing capabilities several years ago, according to Russell Dubner, president and CEO of Edelman U.S. At the time, the agency’s services in those areas were "more one-dimensional" than other sectors, he said.

"If you looked at Edelman five or even seven years ago, we were underweight in financial services and financial comms, given our strength in so many other areas," Dubner said. "We decided this was an area where we needed to be a leader. This is an indication of an ongoing investment to make sure we have the best talent."

Messner is filling the vacancy left by Stephanie Barry, EVP and group head of financial services, who departed last September to join investment management firm Angelo, Gordon & Co. as MD and head of comms, according to her LinkedIn account. Deidre Campbell, global chair of Edelman’s financial sector, described Messner’s role as a "re-imagining" of Barry’s with an expanded remit, working to "integrate communications marketing solutions."

At Ogilvy, Messner led the firm’s relationship with BlackRock, iShares, and E-Trade. Previously, he was global MD at mcgarrybowen, EVP and BBDO, and client services director at Anderson DDB.

This story was updated on May 2 with quotes from Dubner and to clarify Spring's title. It was updated on May 3 to clarify Messner's job responsibilities. 

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