DUBAI, UAE: Emirates hired Hill & Knowlton as its US AOR, following a competitive RFP process that began this past summer. The agency officially won the airline business prior to its merger with Public Strategies, which had no bearing on the company's decision, said Dubai-based PR manager Susan Brown.
The company invited seven agencies to participate in the review, including incumbent M. Silver Associates, which had handled US PR since the airline debuted in the US in 2004. The company did not invite its regional boutique agencies, Victoria King Public Relations in Los Angeles and FKM in Houston, to participate in the review.
With a six-figure budget, via corporate and consumer PR, the agency supports both its tourism and cargo trade capacities between the US and United Arab Emirates. The scope of work also includes social media and sponsorships, such as leveraging its global FIFA World Cup sponsorship in the US.
Ivan Kayser, SVP at H&K, added that the firm will support its partnerships with Jet Blue and Virgin America.
“This allows them to cater to every American,” he said.
The agency consolidation is a result of its expanded capacity in the US and a desire to raise awareness of new commercial flights and secondary destinations in the Middle East, including Africa, the Indian subcontinents, and Australasia, Brown explained.
“As we're looking to grow in the market, we wanted to reevaluate agencies,” she said. “We were exploring an agency that, as we expand, could expand with us.”
Of the selection, she added, “There were a lot of synergies with our brand and their attitude and philosophies.”
The agency does not handle public affairs, which exists outside the company's corporate communications function.
The airline works with about 40 agencies around the world, including H&K in Kenya. In the US, its hubs include New York, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
“It was an interesting process for us,” said Kayser. “It's a great brand with interesting challenges in the US. There's been a lot of steam coming from its business successes.”