Havas PR: PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016

"We are stronger and healthier now than we were this time last year," says Marian Salzman, CEO, Havas PR North America

Principal: Marian Salzman, CEO, North America
Ownership: Havas Group
Offices: Global: 25; U.S.: 12
Revenue: Global: $200 million to $225 million; U.S.: $45 million to $55 million

Havas PR’s 2015 was "dramatically better" for the firm than 2014 with its North America CEO Marian Salzman saying Havas beat expectations and forecasts.

In February, Havas’ holding company, announced an organic revenue increase of 5.1% to $2.42 billion in 2015. Salzman says the global creative agency’s PR businesses’ performance was "consistent" with that of the company overall.

"We are stronger and healthier now than we were this time last year," Salzman adds.

She had estimated that the Phoenix, Boston, and Pittsburgh offices would each grow to about $3 million to $4 million in revenue in 2015. Not all met this goal.

"New England [holding the firm’s Boston and Providence locations] is virtually there and Pittsburgh has more than beaten it," she says. "Phoenix, which opened in February 2015, is already over the million-dollar mark."

In people moves, Linda Descano joined as EVP, Havas PR North America, in November to lead the Providence office; EVP Jody Sunna was promoted to run the New York office. Staff turnover was between 25% and 30%.

Wins included Coca-Cola, Pringles, Sodexo, Sony Mobile Middle East, The Climate Group, and Tourism Australia.

A particular highlight for Salzman was winning the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. in October. "Looking back, 2015 was the year of New England for Havas," she says.

The firm also partnered up with specialty coffee startup Revelator Coffee to build brand recognition and affinity among local consumers as it opened stores in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

"Revelator has a strong footprint in the South and there are a lot of healthcare businesses coming out of that area," she adds. "I could see us doing an acquisition in Nashville this year."

Additional offices
Havas also plans to open a full-service office in Texas this year. Salzman explains that one of the firm’s largest clients, Transitions Optical, is increasingly moving staffers and processes to the Dallas area. Havas also works with a number of Austin startups.

Last summer the firm acquired London-based health comms agency Just:: Health and German PR firm Bird & Schulte. Havas also merged its London PR business into One Green Bean, creating the group’s lead PR and social brand in England’s capital.

"Our goal for this year is to fine tune our regional strategy, keep nurturing our experts, and continue to innovate in real time," says Salzman, who expects business to increase by 10% to 15% in 2016.

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