CHICAGO: Gene Reineke has started his own shop called Hawthorne Strategy Group after exiting his post at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. The consultancy is based in Chicago.
Reineke served in various positions in more than 14 years at H+K, most recently as US director of client services. He also ran the agency's offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington. Previously, he had a nearly 18-year career in the public sector in Illinois.
“It got to my 14-year anniversary [at H+K] where I was serving a variety of clients, and at that point I wanted to try to do something else,” Reineke said.
During his career at H+K, he provided on-site corporate communications and public policy counseling for AIG during the 2009 economic meltdown and counseled Cigna during the national debate on healthcare insurance reform.
Hawthorne will focus on issues management, media relations, and reputation protection and enhancement. Reineke said he plans to partner with other PR professionals if he needs help with a client, and hiring a staff of his own is not out of the question as his client roster grows.The firm is named for its address in Chicago.
He said he is working with Aflac on a project and has four pitches with former clients in the energy, retail, insurance, and technology sectors.
An H+K representative said the agency “wishes him all the best and will fill his role in the near future.”