Porter Novelli: Agency Business Report 2012

Porter Novelli entered its 40th year in a period of transition and with a new senior team determined to return to the "Doing better by doing good" philosophy that defined the firm when it debuted in 1972.

Principal: Gary Stockman, CEO
Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of its Diversified Agency Services division
Offices: Global: 28 wholly owned; US: 14
Revenue: Global: $100 million to $200 million; US: $100 million to $150 million

Porter Novelli entered its 40th year in a period of transition and with a new senior team determined to return to the “Doing better by doing good” philosophy that defined the firm when it debuted in 1972.
 
“It's been the agency's heritage, a founding principle, and remains an important part of who we are,” says CEO Gary Stockman. “Re-embracing that speaks to something marketers are looking for nowadays.”
 
Additions to Porter's leadership team this year include Karen van Bergen, who joined as senior partner and MD of New York from sister Omnicom agency Fleishman-Hillard, and Michael Goldberg, who moved from the network's ad shop Zimmerman to become senior partner, global CMO.
 
These new arrivals supplemented 2011 hires including GM's former director of global social media Christopher Barger, who joined Porter subsidiary Voce Connect as SVP of global programs; Sean Smith, past assistant secretary for public affairs at the US Department of Homeland Security, who moved to Porter as SVP, crisis communications; and Alex Woolfall, who switched from Bell Pottinger to become SVP, corporate reputation, EMEA.
 
Porter's 2011 started well with the acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Voce Communications, but challenges lay ahead.
 
Senior managers such as president Julie Winskie, a 25-year Porter veteran, departed in January this year, following 2011 leavers including EVP, global digital director Brad McCormick; director of global health and regulatory Peter Pitts; Joel Johnson, EVP, strategic planning and research; David Richeson, SVP, global digital and PR; Nick Charles, EVP, global content director; and John Havens, EVP, social media.
 
Richeson led PR and social media strategy on the Procter & Gamble Gillette account that Porter lost to sister Omnicom agency Ketchum after working on the brand for two decades. “It's a blow to have a relationship that changes after so many years,” concedes Stockman. “But we continue to work with P&G in just about every region outside the US.” Porter also lost Amgen, Baxter, Eli Lilly, and Harman International.

Despite hiccups, Porter achieved top- and bottom-line growth in 2011, with account losses offset by new business, organic growth, and revenue from the Voce acquisition.
 
New client wins from the digital and tech practice include NetApp's global business, ESPN, Sony PlayStation, and Disney Parks. Food and nutrition produced organic growth via McDonald's and SoyJoy, and new clients such as PepsiCo Global Nutrition Group, which it no longer works with, and the global Glenfiddich consumer PR account.
 
The EMEA region performed well, with strong results in London and APAC, China in particular. Atlanta, Washington, DC, and San Francisco were the best US performers.
 
The agency is placing great stock in proprietary analytics products such as its Radar conversation-tracking hub, which won an honorable mention in the PR Innovation category at the 2012 PRWeek Awards, and its TrendingTarget media analytics tool.
 
“In 2011, we focused on getting the right leadership in place,” says Stockman. “We've positioned ourselves extraordinarily well for 2012 and beyond. I've never seen a level of activity like that of the first couple of months of this year.”

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