PR Week Global Report Card: Weber Shandwick Q&A

Harris Diamond, CEO, Weber Shandwick

What were your agency's three highlights of the past year?

As Weber Shandwick kicks-off its 10th anniversary year since the merger of Shandwick, BSMG Worldwide and Weber Group, I am proud to say our continued market leadership, digital innovation and growth, and global recognition of our intellectual capital through thought leadership initiatives and industry honors set the tone for a terrific, celebratory year for us. In addition, we broadened our already strong geographic footprint, opening offices in Montreal, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Of which work in the last 12 months were you most proud?

We are proud of the relationships we have with our clients, the work we do for them and the confidence they place in us.
We’ve been recognized for our innovative work with numerous awards across the globe from leading industry publications and associations.

How has your agency been improving its digital offering in the last 12 months?

Weber Shandwick has built one of the premier social agencies, within one of the world's leading PR firms. This year, the Digital Communications practice experienced unprecedented growth worldwide. We’ve seen opportunity across virtually all regions and practice areas, increasing staff and winning significant new business.

We continued to invest in a diverse range of talent with key hires. These include social media maven and author Stephanie Agresta, and digital creative guru Josh Rose, and we brought Jon Wade, one of the UK marketing industry’s leading digital experts, to Asia. We currently have more than 300 strategists, community managers, producers, writers, developers, bloggers, syndication and analytics experts embedded in offices worldwide – seamlessly collaborating and working across time zones and borders.

Our team shares its deep expertise and insights with global audiences through events, by-lined articles, speaking engagements, blogs, tweets and other social media platforms as well as research and white papers on emerging trends. We are a governing member of WOMMA, the global media partner during Social Media Week New York 2011, and had one of the largest presences of any marketing services agency handling client activations at SXSW this year.

And our innovative digital work has received the highest industry honors in marketing and public relations awards around the world, most notably being named a "Top 4 Employer for Social Media Professionals" by Mashable, a Digital Firm of the Year by PR News and PR Innovation of the Year for our social crisis simulator, Firebell, by PRWeek in the US.  

What are the most effective ways of encouraging more collaborative working across a global network of offices?

We collaborate as a matter of course at our firm, but with that said, we are committed to continually improving and building a strong network of tools and offerings along with a leadership team that focuses on building a collaborative culture across every Weber Shandwick office. For many of our clients the imperative today is engagement and we must increasingly be able to drive ideas and executive programs across disciplines, media, channels, geographies and more.

One example of this is our Brand Engagement Lab (BE Lab) - an online co-creation platform that lets us bring a wider and more diverse set of minds and mavens from across the disciplines of marketing, and even from target audiences, into the idea creation and collaboration process. BE Lab is helping us to create even stronger engagement ideas for our clients today while strengthening our collaborative culture.
Which three offices have been experiencing the greatest growth over the 12 months to July 31 2011 and why?

While, China, Northern California and Minneapolis all grew by more than 20 percent, year-over-year, Weber Shandwick has seen record-setting growth with a balanced contribution across the globe. The markets that have experienced the greatest growth are continuing to see solid performance in key practice areas like consumer, healthcare, corporate and technology- driven in particular by digital and social media work.

On which markets will your agency focus in 2012 and why?

For 2012, we will continue to focus on all of our markets.  For the first time in several years we are seeing double-digit growth in all regions of the globe with unprecedented activity in Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States.

Harris Diamond is CEO, Weber Shandwick

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