Kia holds PR-agency shootout

IRVINE, CA: Kia Motors America is holding a PR-agency review after six years with its current agency, Pacific Communications.

IRVINE, CA: Kia Motors America is holding a PR-agency review after six years with its current agency, Pacific Communications.

Kim Custer, director of PR for the car company, said he has decided to "assess what capabilities are out there to make sure it makes sense to keep working with [Pacific]." Publicis Dialog, GCI Group, Cohn & Wolfe, and PR21 are the other agencies, in addition to Pacific, competing for the account that Custer described as "well into the six figures." He said he suspects Kia to have it narrowed down to three agencies within one week, and to make a final decision by mid-July. Search consultant Jerry Swerling, who began his career consulting for the automotive industry, has been retained to assist in the selection process. Custer cited Kia's "significant growth" as a reason for the reevaluation. He said sales have gone from 40,000 to 250,000 per year over a 10-year period. The company is predicting similar sales for 2003. "We need to be more strategic in our planning, and more aggressive in getting senior executives out in front of the business media," explained Custer. Prior to its six-year relationship with Pacific, Kia worked with Porter Novelli.

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