LOS ANGELES: Hill & Knowlton in the US is closing the doors on one
of the oldest names in public relations, Carl Byoir & Associates, citing
"current market conditions."
The decision to close or "suspend" its activities illustrates the
difficulty H&K has had trying to revive the shop's illustrious past.
Chairman and CEO of H&K Howard Paster admitted, "The Carl Byoir brand
has a tremendously rich heritage, but it struggled to find its niche
from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s."
H&K bought the firm in the mid-'80s, and brought in new management five
years ago in an attempt to breathe new life into the firm that had once
helped shape the progress of the industry, but had recently lost its
Paster explained that market conditions had "shrunk the pipeline of
premium business." The firm prided itself on counseling senior
management with non-traditional PR programs.
Staffers have been made redundant, and were notified of the decision on
November 1. However, H&K has reserved the right to resurrect the firm's
US operations, and made it clear that overseas operations will not be
affected. The agency will continue to operate in Sydney, Melbourne,
Milan, Brussels, and Amsterdam, though it is unclear how much weight the
name will hold without a US counterpart.
Founded in the 1930s, Carl Byoir worked for the Eastern Railroads
company and was later hired by Cuban President Machado as the country's
first PR firm. The Museum of Public Relations has carried retrospectives
of the firm.
Maureen Crow, who has managed the business since 1996, was unavailable
for comment as PRWeek went to press, but said in a statement that the
"inventory of highly strategic consulting that Byoir targets is
H&K was unable to provide staff numbers or revenues. The agency's
figures are not broken out from H&K's.