Wren eyes leadership changes at one Omnicom PR firm

The Omnicom CEO's comments follow a third quarter in which the holding company's PR firms saw an organic revenue drop of 0.4%.

Wren eyes leadership changes at one Omnicom PR firm

NEW YORK: Leadership changes are due at one of Omnicom Group’s PR agencies, holding company CEO John Wren said on its third-quarter earnings call this week.

After JPMorgan media analyst Alexia Quadrani asked if Omnicom’s PR segment would bounce back, Wren said he expects it to do so.

"People are changing the product to meet the market," said Wren, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. "And there's probably one unit in particular where there still has to be more management changes which haven't occurred yet."

Wren did not name the agency to which he was referring. The holding company owns and operates firms including FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Marina Maher Communications, and Portland Communications within the Omnicom Public Relations Group.

Asked to expand on Wren’s comments, Omnicom SVP of global communications Joanne Trout said via email that the holding company would not comment further. Marina Maher, CEO of the eponymous firm, deferred requests for comment to Omnicom PR Group CEO Karen van Bergen. Van Bergen was not immediately available for comment, but an Omnicom PR Group representative deferred to Trout, as did a representative of Porter. The CEOs of Fleishman and Ketchum could not be reached for comment.

Wren’s comments followed a third quarter in which its communications shops reported an organic revenue drop of 0.4% to $345.9 million, compared with Q3 2016 in which organic revenue was up 4.4% over the year prior.

"PR was slightly negative this quarter, driven mainly by weakness in the U.S., which saw a difficult [comparison] due to the benefit last year of the presidential election," Wren explained on the call.

In July, Wren said Omnicom was "adjusting some of the leadership" at its PR firms after a second quarter in which revenue was down 0.3% organically. Wren noted on the company’s Q2 earnings call that its PR, shopper marketing, and branding businesses "dragged down" the holding company’s performance in the quarter.

"In PR, what we’re doing is adjusting some of the leadership — typically you can take our people and you can see that we have hunters and farmers; sometimes we get too many farmers in a place," he said on the Q2 earnings call.

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