INTERNATIONAL: Pitches possible as HP reviews comms

PALO ALTO, CA: Hewlett-Packard has set a three-month deadline for the rationalisation of its PR agency relationships.

The comms restructure follows a review triggered by the computing giant's recent merger with Compaq. HP has not ruled out agency pitches.

'We are evaluating all of the resources that we have at our disposal, and at some point we are going to make decisions about what agencies will continue to support various businesses, and what will not,' said HP director of executive media relations Arch Currid.

'Beyond that, I can't characterise any formal process at this time,' he added.

Currid, who was previously with Compaq, said that an RFP 'may or may not happen', depending on the outcome of the review.

He would not say whether existing agencies would be asked to re-pitch the business.

'It is fair to say that we will have a very clear understanding of who we'll move forward with in a 90-day time-frame,' he said.

Hill & Knowlton, previously retained by Compaq, is still working with the new company. HP also retains Weber Shandwick, Golin/ Harris, Applied Communications, The Hoffman Agency and Porter Novelli.

When asked if any agencies have already been phased out, Currin said: 'None that we are prepared to talk about at this point.'

No new agencies have been brought into the mix, and the company is not retaining an external consultant to help with the audit.

Meanwhile, the in-house team is almost in place. Former Compaq consultant Kay Hart is now HP vice-president of corporate communications, while Allison Johnson is senior V-P of global brand and communications.

HP plans to lay off 15,000 staff over the next two years and it is expected PR will be one of the areas affected.

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