ATLANTA: After an extensive agency review, BellSouth has
consolidated its PR account into an alliance between Porter-Novelli
Convergence Group and creative boutique 360 Thinc.
The move coincides with its repositioning from a phone company to a
digital communications provider.
BellSouth has a long-standing relationship with the senior managers at
360. Cohn & Wolfe founder Bob Cohn and former agency principal Jim
Overstreet, who joined 360 in early 2000, have both worked extensively
with BellSouth PR chief Denny Betz.
PNCG's effort was led by general manager Kathy Bremer. David Copithorne,
president of PNCG, said his agency was considered the dark horse in the
review: 'People weren't aware of how strong we are in that market,' he
PNCG/360 competed with incumbent GCI Group, as well as Manning Selvage &
Lee and Hill & Knowlton with Socket PR, for the estimated dollars 5
For the past five years, the work was split along business lines between
C&W/Atlanta and GCI Group. At stake were assignments for corporate
branding, IR, and an array of consumer and b-to-b product positioning,
including entry into the long-distance market.
BellSouth will maintain its long-held relationships with Deeley Trimble
(now owned by MS&L), and Matlock & Associates for internal employee
communications and diversity marketing.
For Ken Willis, general manager of GCI/Atlanta, this is a professional
and personal loss. BellSouth was one of the first clients Willis signed
when he opened the Atlanta office in 1995. 'One of the reasons we're
good is that we become personally involved with our clients, so it's
sort of a grieving thing for us,' he said. BellSouth accounted for 5% of
his shop's revenues.