HOUSTON: Michael Kehs will return to Hill+Knowlton Strategies as head of its Houston office and US energy practice on March 17.
In his previous role at the agency, Kehs served in the Washington, DC, office as GM and head of the firm’s US public affairs practice.
In his new position, he will manage the Houston office as well as work with energy clients, particularly in North America. Kehs will also focus on new business initiatives, he said.
Kehs said he sees Houston as a central hub of the "North American energy Renaissance," calling the city the Silicon Valley of energy.
"I can be connected to all of the US energy opportunities from Houston," he explained. "I hope to be a catalyst for explosive growth for our office down there. I think the team is really excellent – I’m looking forward to working with them all."
Before founding his own firm in 2013, Kehs was VP of strategic affairs and public relations at Chesapeake Energy, an Oklahoma City-based exploration and production company. He led its internal and external communications initiatives, produced its first corporate responsibility report, and served as a media spokesperson.
Kehs previously worked at H+K from 2008 to 2011, where he counseled clients across practice groups and geographies, led the team that launched and built America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and helped to manage the crisis response and public hearings that followed an oil pipeline spill.
Prior to that, he spent more than two decades at Porter Novelli and Burson-Marsteller.
Kehs said he is looking forward to expanding the firm’s team in Houston, adding that he "adored" working with the H+K team in DC and around the world during his first stint at the agency. The firm did not use a recruiter and reached out directly to him, he said.
The shop he founded, Kehs & Co., "will be shuttered" as he returns to the WPP Group agency.
"The opportunity for me to get back to them is very attractive," he said.
Before Kehs’ appointment, global energy practice leader Chris Gidez directed the US energy practice as well. H+K confirmed he is staying in his role.