FAYETTEVILLE, AR: Hill+Knowlton Strategies SVP and former Walmart director George Shelton has left the firm to start his own shop with former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D).
The agency, named Company.Politics, launched in late February, weeks after Shelton departed H+K. The agency offers services in corporate communications, reputation management, and strategic consulting.
Shelton joined H+K in February 2012 to lead its US corporate and reputation management practices. He stepped down from the position last fall but continued to serve as a senior counselor at the agency until February. Andy Weitz, global corporate practice co-chair at H+K, is filling Shelton's former role.
Prior to H+K, Shelton was senior director for insights, advocacy, and outreach at Walmart, where he led the reputation management team. He also served as a partner at political strategy firm Strother-Duffy-Shelton and as communications director at the Democratic Governors Association.
Musgrove was governor of Mississippi from 2000 to 2004. Shelton met him while working on his 1999 campaign.
Shelton will be based in Fayetteville, AR, and Musgrove in Jackson, MI, with an office in Washington DC.
“With my background in reputation management and Musgrove's understanding of government, a Washington office provides us a geographic and strategic position to tackle tough challenges,” Shelton explained.
He added that Arkansas, home to organizations such as Walmart, the University of Arkansas, and Tyson Foods, is also a “blossoming area” for the firm.
Company.Politics plans to hire additional staff soon, Shelton said. The firm has signed clients from sectors including healthcare and education, though Shelton declined to disclose them. Education and healthcare will continue to be key focus areas, he added.
Explaining the agency's name, Shelton said it “gets back to working within the framework and culture of large companies to develop a solution that is outside the box.”