Porter Novelli acquires tech PR firm Voce Communications

NEW YORK: Omnicom's Porter Novelli acquired Voce Communications, a technology PR and social media firm which reported about $12 million in annual revenue for 2010, according to Voce co-founder Richard Cline.

NEW YORK: Omnicom's Porter Novelli acquired Voce Communications, a technology PR and social media firm which reported about $12 million in annual revenue for 2010, according to Voce co-founder Richard Cline. The deal becomes effective today.

The firm's 30 San Francisco employees will merge with Porter Novelli's technology practice, within its San Francisco office. As a result of the deal, the combined group will become “Voce, a Porter Novelli company.”

Cline assumes the role of global technology practice lead for Porter Novelli and he becomes a member of the firm's executive committee, reporting to Porter Novelli CEO Gary Stockman. Brad MacAfee, who had held that role, will continue to serve as a senior partner and MD of Porter Novelli's Atlanta office, as well as a member of the Porter Novelli executive committee.

Stockman said the acquisition is in part a result of the natural evolution of the work that the agencies have partnered on over the years, such as new business pitches and client work.

The duo recently won the Hitachi AOR account following a joint pitch, as well as the Yahoo consumer business in a joint pitch in late 2009. Porter Novelli also won the Monster consumer business and Voce recently took on the brand's social media work. And Sony Computer Entertainment America hired Voce and Access Communications to work on its PlayStation business last March. At the time, PRWeek reported that Porter Novelli, which was the incumbent, chose not to re-pitch for the business.

“We've been looking to expand the scope and scale in technology in the Bay Area,” said Stockman. “The reason we're doing this is to grow capabilities and business. We looked at a range of solutions, but Voce was by far the best choice.”

In April 2009, Voce reported that its annual revenue in 2008 had increased 16.6%, to over $7 million from the previous year, and Cline said the firm has had steady growth over the past five years, leading up to its $12 million in revenue today.

“We've moved up to a different stratosphere on our competition level,” he said. “Last year, every major competitive RFP [pitch] we went on felt as if it was us against five global firms." 

Despite the recognition of its digital and social media work, Cline explained that Voce was “handicapped in what it had been able to do” in terms of traditional consumer, crisis, and global experience.

Voce will maintain its Sunnyvale, CA office, with about 25 employees, as well as its digital development employees near Orlando, FL. 

Additional technology business for both firms includes Porter Novelli's HP account, as well as Voce's eBay social media account.  

The firms would not disclose the terms of the deal.

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