Golin embraces the term PR in repositioning

"It's about time for a major agency to say, 'We're proudly a PR shop," says co- CEO Matt Neale.

Golin embraces the term PR in repositioning

CHICAGO: The new Golin is the old Golin.

The Interpublic Group agency is leaning into its legacy and "proudly" calling itself a PR agency in a repositioning launched on Thursday, co-CEO Matt Neale said.

Rejecting the "ambiguity" and lack of "conviction" around the term, Neale said, "We’re taking our industry back."

"It’s about time for a major agency to say, ‘We’re proudly a PR shop,’" he added.

Agencies have spent years distancing themselves from the term "PR," or finding synonymous ways of describing themselves. For instance, Edelman calls itself a "communications marketing" firm; Burson Cohn & Wolfe says it’s a "one of the world’s largest full-service global communications agencies"; and Weber Shandwick is a "leading global communications and engagement firm."

Even Golin, Neale acknowledges, ran away from its PR roots. "It’s because PR wanted to grow its remit into marketing clients," Neale said. "The mistake was to become something else and abandon what made us unique and valued."

Neale noted that agencies across the industry are racing toward integration by building out capabilities, but Golin is doubling down on its competencies in media relations and influencer relations, Neale said. "In the past, agencies probably underinvested in this area," he added. "Now this is absolutely core to the requests we get from clients at the moment."

As part of its repositioning, Golin has launched an operating system for all of its 50 offices via two new products. The first, listening platform Relevance Radar, provides data analytics that will allow Golin to measure their impact against tangible results, such as sales. The second is CXPR, which allows PR pros to monitor social feeds and learn about customers’ experiences, the idea being to combine PR and customer experience.

Head of data analytics Jonny Bentwood led on the project, assisted by a team of five and external partners.


Golin also stated its aim to ensure "each of its offices reflect the cities and communities in which they are based". It has hired Margenett Moore-Roberts, Yahoo!’s former global head of inclusion and diversity, as chief inclusion and diversity officer to help achieve the ambition.

Jon Hughes, another co-CEO who returned to the UK this year from Hong Kong to oversee offices across EMEA and Asia, told PRWeek 14 per cent of the London office is currently non-white British, in line with the UK as a whole.

Hughes said his aim is to reach 30 per cent, which is the proportion in London. Golin has been working with groups including the Taylor Bennett Foundation and BME PR Pros to help increase the ethnic diversity of the office, he said.

Hughes said that for the team to be "progressive, it has to match the community and the city we serve".

"When we have people from different backgrounds, how we make sure they feel included right from the very beginning so they give their very best and don’t feel isolated… that’s a big focus for us."

Earlier this year Golin announced it has a 3.77 per cent gender pay gap in the UK in favour of women. Hughes said 70 per cent of the UK leadership team is now female, up from 50 per cent in 2015. He cited initiatives such as the ‘returnship’ programme for parents, flexible working, and ‘ease in days’ for returning staff.

This story was updated on Thursday afternoon with comment from Jon Hughes

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