NEW YORK: In the wake of Harris Diamond's departure from Weber Shandwick to lead ad agency network McCann Worldgroup, contemporaries in the industry said he was a visionary who led his firm to be one of the most successful in the country.
In the 11 years Diamond led the agency, he created a powerhouse that had other shops looking over their shoulders.
“They are clearly our No. 1 competitor,” Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said. “They are the people we fear and respect the most.”
He added that Diamond had a “stand-out performance” when running the firm and he left a legacy as a “loyal, top-class senior executive.”
Weber parent company Interpublic Group said on Tuesday that Andy Polansky, the firm's former president, has taken over for Diamond as CEO.
When his tenure at Weber began, Diamond was given the task of consolidating multiple firms such as the Weber Group, Shandwick International, and BSMG, “a formidable job that he was very good at,” said Jack Modzelewski, Fleishman-Hillard president of the Americas.
In his new role as CEO of McCann, Diamond will likely continue to provide business opportunities for Weber and other Interpublic PR firms, even as advertising agencies offer more integrated offerings, he added.
“I imagine [Diamond] is more interested in partnering then competing against them,” Modzelewski said.
For all of Diamond's achievements, George Regan, chairman of Regan Communications, was perplexed by what he saw as a less than gracious exit announcement for Diamond, which he found sparse with details and achievements.
“I have had secretaries that we've said more nice things about when they leave,” Regan said. “I think he built the company to what it is today.”
For his part, Diamond told PRWeek on Tuesday that “I've had the best years of my professional life at Weber Shandwick.”
“It's a great company and a great group of people. It will be terrific with Andy Polansky at the helm,” he said.
When comparing Diamond and Polansky, Tim Marklein, founder of Weber's measurement and strategy practice, said Diamond “epitomizes how to run marketing services as a business” and his successor “is a client-focused collaboration driver.” Marklein now runs W2O's technology and analytics offering.
Moving forward, all of the industry leaders PRWeek spoke to feel the biggest challenge for Polansky will be finding innovative and integrated methods to maintain and continue to build a client base.
“Weber's challenge is the same as many big agencies — how can they cultivate a truly innovative, multi-platform, discipline-neutral approach to the communications challenges ahead?” Marklein said.