F-H wins $14m Illinois tourism work from Edelman

SPRINGFIELD, IL: Fleishman-Hillard has won a multimillion-dollar tourism PR contract with the state of Illinois from long-time incumbent Edelman.

SPRINGFIELD, IL: Fleishman-Hillard has won a multimillion-dollar tourism PR contract with the state of Illinois from long-time incumbent Edelman.

The Omnicom Group firm beat out Edelman, which has represented the Illinois Office of Tourism's work both abroad and domestically for nearly two decades. The contract is with the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which oversees the tourism office.

Edelman last re-upped with the state in 2008 in a deal worth more than $17 million, according to an award notice for the contract.

Fleishman's contract is worth more than $14 million. It formally begins in May and will last until April 2015 with an option of two renewal terms, according to the notice.

Brad Strauss, PR manager at the Illinois Office of Tourism, told PRWeek there is an administrative process underway that prevents the department from commenting at this time.

Maxine Winer, general manager of Fleishman's Chicago office, said the agency was thrilled with the account win after finding out yesterday. The contract will be managed by the firm's Chicago office. Winer said she was unable to comment beyond that.

Winer joined Fleishman-Hillard in 2010 from Edelman, where she served as deputy general manager and led the reputation management practice in the firm's Chicago office.

Edelman had not done any regular tourism work for Illinois since June 2010 because the state has not had the funds to promote it, said Rick Murray, president of Edelman Chicago.

“The state feels that it's time to move on, and more power to them,” he said. “We value the business and are sorry to see them go. Fleishman obviously had something we didn't.”

No one from the state tourism office reached out to Edelman, which found out the business relationship was over via an intent-to-award notice on Illinois' procurement site, said Murray. He also expressed doubt over the $14 million figure the state has said it will set aside for Fleishman's work.

“Based on what we were told during the RFP process, unless 80% of that is coming from people's pockets, I don't know where that number comes from,” added Murray, who indicated that Edelman will try to win back the account in three years.

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