Tunheim buys old firm in GCI pullout from Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS: GCI has pulled out of the Minneapolis PR market. It has sold Tunheim Partners, a 2001 acquisition, back to the firm's founder.

MINNEAPOLIS: GCI has pulled out of the Minneapolis PR market. It has sold Tunheim Partners, a 2001 acquisition, back to the firm's founder.

Kathy Tunheim, president and CEO of the once again independent Tunheim Partners, said she surveyed clients last year and found that they were more concerned about having access to local talent than they were about being able to tap GCI's global network.

Clients were also looking for "flexibility" from an agency, she said, but she denied that the decision was tied to the large firm's fee schedule.

"It really wasn't about the pricing as it was terms and conditions," she said.

Tunheim clients include Target, the Minnesota Twins, and healthcare concern HoMedics.

Several purchases of independent Midwestern agencies by global concerns before the recession have proven to be less than perfect as business has slowed in the region.

Tunheim's agency has shrunk to 30 staffers from 60, when it was purchased by GCI in 2001. Nevertheless, Tunheim said she hopes to expand staff as she concentrates on handling consumer PR, corporate consulting on communications issues, and public affairs work.

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