CHICAGO: Hill & Knowlton is partnering with Chicago public affairs firm Wilhelm & Conlon (W&C) to broaden its public affairs reach across the Midwest.
"In this economy, one of the growth areas in PR is public affairs," said Gene Reineke, COO of H&K USA and GM of the Chicago office.
W&C is a four-year-old shop. Cofounder David Wilhelm was the national campaign manager for the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992, and chaired the Democratic National Committee. He also has long-time ties to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and is a senior adviser to Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich.
Reineke has connections to Illinois Republicans, having served as press secretary to a former Republican governor.
Working together, "we do have a series of relationships on both sides of the political fence that will benefit our clients," Reineke said.
Kevin Conlon, a cofounder of W&C, said his agency had been looking for a partner that could offer public affairs clients national and global PR reach.
W&C, which has eight staffers and does not disclose revenues, works with such clients as Amtrak and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
H&K has done public affairs work for clients such as Allstate and Motorola, and has PA revenue of about $2 million for its 12-person Chicago group.