ATLANTA: InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns and operates brands including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, has selected Hill+Knowlton Strategies as its agency for corporate and brand PR in the Americas.
H+K was selected following a review of PR agencies within WPP. The holding company's firms include Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy Public Relations, and Cohn & Wolfe.
The switch to a WPP PR firm is part of a larger global restructuring for IHG, which consolidated its worldwide marketing roster to a WPP team in July. The account is understood to have a budget in the seven-figure range.
IHG chose H+K based on its strategic thinking, thought leadership, team dynamics, and chemistry with the company's internal staff, said Francie Schulwolf, VP of corporate communications for the Americas at the hotel business.
“Also, we use Hill+Knowlton in China, as well as Europe, so there's a great opportunity to drive further alignment across the globe,” she added.
H+K's primary responsibilities will include corporate reputation and consumer brand PR for the Americas, with an initial focus on the US, explained Schulwolf. She said the agency will also handle some digital that is tied to PR and earned media.
“[The goal] is to really get greater alignment across everything we do in communications, gain greater efficiencies across the organization, and build a strong relationship across the network,” said Schulwolf.
“We have a great opportunity to tell a real positive story for IHG. They have so many great properties to help promote and help advance their reputation in the marketplace,” said Dan Bartlett, US president and CEO of H+K. “What we like about [Schulwolf] and her team is they really bring a strategic approach to how brand and reputation work hand-in-hand in aligning with their business goals for North America.”
Sergio Morales, SVP and head of the New York consumer marketing practice, will lead the account from the consumer side, and SVP Jessica Anderson will head the corporate work for IHG. Bartlett said he will also be involved with the account, which will be staffed by a New York-based team of six to 10 employees.
IHG previously worked with Weber Shandwick in the Americas for five years.
“We've been very proud of our association with IHG and the work we've done supporting some of its brands,” said Weber Shandwick president Andy Polansky in September. “We have great experience in this category.”