SAN FRANCISCO: FleishmanHillard has launched a global sports practice, promoting SVP Dianna Kraus to MD to lead the group, the firm said on Thursday.
She is based in San Francisco, continuing to report to office GM Tim O’Keeffe. Kraus will also report to chief practice officer Janise Murphy in regards to the sports practice.
The agency’s first sports initiative was founded in 2007 by U.S. COO and Americas president J.J. Carter and SVP Jim Woodcock, both of whom will serve as advisers for Kraus and the new practice. However, the firm had not strongly promoted its work in the sector. Prior to Thursday, Fleishman did not list sports as an offering on its website.
Kraus said the practice launch is a "coming out" for work the agency has been doing.
"I like to say that we have been at FleishmanHillard a quiet sports powerhouse for a long time, and this really is a doubling down of resources in what is already an impressive strength built by a number of talented people," she said.
Kraus added that two of her priorities for the practice will be focusing on sponsorships and bringing Fleishman’s experience in reputation and crisis to the sports sponsorship world.
"We see an immediate opportunity to respond to the reputational needs of brands operating in sports," she said. "We think there’s great opportunity to package our existing strong reputational capabilities to help brand navigate those challenges."
Previously, Kraus led strategic global and domestic sports comms and sponsorships for financial services, technology, automotive, and consumer brands. She joined Fleishman nine years ago after a three-year stint at Chicago-based Current Public Relations and Communications.
The firm has also appointed three regional sports leads: SVP Steve Hickok, director Chris Gratton, and SVP Suki Zhao for the Americas, Europe, and Asia, respectively. The trio will report to Kraus; 150 other Fleishman staffers around the world are handling sports.
Hickok, based in Minneapolis, has worked on Visa’s NFL sponsorship, the Olympic Games, and the FIFA World Cup, as well as sports video games.
Gratton joined Fleishman recently after working at Octagon Sports Marketing, where he worked on Sony Mobile’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League, Budweiser’s sponsorship of the FA Cup, and Delta Air Lines’ support of Chelsea FC. Gratton is based in London.
Zhao, based in Shanghai, joined Fleishman in January after seven years at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, according to her LinkedIn account.
Fleishman’s global revenue was down 2% in 2017 to $578 million.