Cost-conscious Pitney Bowes nears agency selection

STAMFORD, CT: Pitney Bowes plans to finalize its PR agency selection in late April, following a competitive review.

STAMFORD, CT: Pitney Bowes plans to finalize its PR agency selection in late April, following a competitive review. The $5.6 billion-technology company that offers mail- and document-management services and products, issued an RFP for its business unit PR in North America and for corporate and business unit PR in Europe with an eye toward costs.

“PR, as well as units more broadly across the company, are looking at making sure we're paying market rates for market services,” said Matthew Broder, VP of external communications at PB. “It's a healthy exercise. We're not doing this blindly. All of our vendors were alerted early in the process, so we're being very transparent about it.”

Since 2007, the company has embarked on a restructuring plan to reduce costs and streamline its business, including through layoffs and exiting some businesses altogether such as its motor vehicle registration services program. PB's CEO, Murray Martin, has said repeatedly that these actions are necessary to reposition the company for future growth. The company was negatively affected by the recession, and the mail category, overall, has suffered as the number of documents mailed plummeted drastically in recent years.

In its 2010 guidance, PB predicted flat revenue growth for the year, as well as an increased focus on the “utilization of enhanced procurement processes.”

Broder noted that all incumbent firms were invited to pitch for the PR review, which is now closed. It also went to a select number of non-incumbent firms. The RFP was first reported by PR blog, PRNewser.

CJP Communications and Schwartz Communications hold the largest pieces of the business, and both agencies confirmed they are participating in this review. CJP was hired in 2007 to work on a number of corporate initiatives, including media relations and thought leadership positioning in its business unit. Schwartz works on PB's Business Insight section. The agency has worked with MapInfo, acquired by PB in 2007, for nearly two decades.

The RFP also went to incumbents Hill & Knowlton, which works on its corporate Canada business, International Media Consultants, and “several European” firms. H&K also confirmed it is repitching for the account. International Media Consultants did not respond to a request for comment.

All of the agencies stand to gain or lose pieces of the business as PB has not yet decided whether to consolidate the work or even to keep the current roster as is.

“We have received all qualified responses and will engage in our internal reviews over the next few weeks,” Broder added in an e-mail to PRWeek.  

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