The most-read agency stories of 2018

The biggest agency merger in recent memory resulted in several stories in the year's top 10.

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Sources: Baylor used ‘mole’ to aid comms during sex assault crisis
August 22
Baylor University infiltrated sexual assault survivor groups to shape PR strategy and talking points on how to handle the groups and student demonstrations, according to sources. Both the university’s communications department and its PR agency at the time, Ketchum, denied any wrongdoing.

WPP merges Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe
February 27
In one of the most notable agency combinations in years, WPP merged Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe in February, creating the third-largest PR agency in the world by revenue. Cohn & Wolfe CEO Donna Imperato was named the agency’s CEO.

Edelman reimburses 66 women VPs paid less than men
August 27
After a deal with the Labor Department, the firm began paying more than $4,000 to 66 women for salary discrepancies that took place in 2012 and 2013. Sixty-six women from the agency’s New York office who were paid less than men while holding the same positions received checks. The firm found out about the discrepancies via a federal audit.

FAO Schwarz selects The Door for New York return
June 4
The legendary toy store brought on The Door as it planned to permanently reopen its doors in New York in November after an absence of three years. The retailer closed its doors in the Big Apple in 2015 due to rising rent, but decided to open a 20,000-square-foot flagship at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Closing time: WPP outlines workplace drinking policy
April 5
The holding company seemed to be distancing itself from the Mad Men era with new drinking-at-the-desk policies: for one, no more "drinks trolleys." The holding company outlined its policy on "ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol by employees and other guests at work-related events" in a memo.

Burson Cohn & Wolfe sheds two U.S. leaders, promotes four others
August 23
Like with any merger, some staffers stayed and some employees left after the merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe. In this case, it was a mix of both, with BCW U.S. CFO Jerry Selick and MD of human resources Maya Kalkay leaving the firm.

‘Massive restructuring is underway’: Experts predict more agency mergers to follow Burson-C&W tie-up
February 28
Experts predicted that other holding companies would follow the lead of WPP in creating BCW and bring together their own shops. "It makes sense that all of the businesses WPP operates would be subject to this," said Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser.

Peppercomm’s Moed and Birkhahn to depart and launch Hot Paper Lantern
June 12
Agency co-CEO Ed Moed, president Ted Birkhahn, and other Peppercomm executives moved over to the new "affiliate brand." "We’re still part of the same family, but we’re operating independently," said Birkhahn.

Negligence suit against Weber Shandwick dismissed
May 23
The harassment suit, filed by online personality George Ouzounian last November, named the Interpublic Group firm and others as defendants. The claim was dismissed by a New York Supreme Court judge who questioned why the firm was named in the first place.

Inside McDonald’s new approach to communications
April 13
The fast-food giant reorganized its global PR agency roster, assigning its three main areas of storytelling -- food, experience, and people -- to Golin, WE Communications, and Purple Strategies, respectively. Longtime agency partner Golin was previously the go-to firm for all three focus areas.

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