GolinHarris sets fundamental restructure in motion

CHICAGO: Interpublic Group agency GolinHarris is completely redesigning the way it works in a bid to double in size globally within the next decade.

Click here for PRWeek's video interview with Fred Cook, president and CEO of GolinHarris, about the agency's redesign.

CHICAGO: Interpublic Group agency GolinHarris is completely redesigning the way it works in a bid to double in size globally within the next decade.

Nine months in the making, the agency model redesign is based around four areas of expertise rather than traditional PR silos. It spells the end of the seniority-based hierarchy of job titles by which the industry typically defines itself, replaced by a concentration on specialists over generalists.

The agency expects to complete its transformation within a year and hopes the new structure will enable it to double global revenue by 2020 and double its roster of multi-million dollar clients from five to 10. It is also understood to be eyeing two acquisitions abroad and a digital acquisition in the US. GolinHarris declared global revenues of between $150 million and $200 million in PRWeek's recent Agency Business Report.

Fred Cook, president and CEO of GolinHarris, told PRWeek: “It is partly driven by fear, partly by opportunity. When it was just earned media we [PR] owned it. Now we're expanding into shared, owned, and paid media there's a lot more competition with agencies we didn't come up against before. We want to make sure we're as good as those businesses in every area.”

Al Golin, founder and chairman of the iconic agency, added: “Everything is going well, business is good, and our clients are happy. But the time to fix a roof is when the sun is shining.”

Instead of the standard hierarchy of about 17 job titles such as AAE, AE, SAE, AS, AGS, VP, SVP, EVP, and MD, GolinHarris staff will be classified in four different groups the agency is calling its “g4 model” – strategists, creators, connectors, or catalysts – and formed into global teams of specialists embedded on all accounts. Every member of GolinHarris staff will complete a “prevolve” self-assessment survey to determine which g4 group is most appropriate for them.

The strategists group will be headed by Greg Sendi, currently lead on Dow, GolinHarris' largest account, and director of the agency's corporate communications practice in Chicago. The creators group will be led by creative director James Kelly, who is based in New York City.

Connectors will be overseen by Dallas-based global digital practice leader Jeff Beringer, NYC-based national media relations lead Jim Dowd, and London head of digital Alan Parker. The catalysts group will be helmed by the agency's Los Angeles-based lead on the Nintendo account, Stephen Jones, and New York consumer group director Nicola Moore.

All GolinHarris offices around the globe will be equipped with a high-tech control center to monitor earned, shared, paid, and owned media based on the agency's “Bridge” engagement centers in New York [pictured above], San Francisco, and London.

“The technological knowledge required has increased dramatically,” explained Cook. “We have to be equally as conversant in technology as any type of agency. It's not about having a digital division or group – everyone must understand it.”

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