INTERNATIONAL: HP plans to shrink roster of global comms agencies

PALO ALTO, CA: Hewlett-Packard is planning to streamline its extensive global PR roster down to three or five agencies by November in the largest communications consolidation since IBM's mammoth pitch in May last year.

The HP-Compaq merger brought more than 50 PR firms around the world to the new HP.

The company issued an RFI last week to around a dozen 'top industry PR firms', said HP director of corporate media relations Tim Marklein, who joined late last month from Applied Communications - one of HP's agencies.

'Our goal is to build the quality, consistency, and competitiveness of HP's communications,' said Marklein.

'We really need an agency model that best supports that. There are currently too many agencies worldwide to have a co-ordinated and focused communications effort,' he added.

Prior to the merger, HP was served in the US by Applied Communications on the corporate and product side, with The Hoffman Agency, Porter Novelli, Weber Shandwick, and Golin/Harris International providing PR for various business units.

Hill & Knowlton and Blanc & Otus worked with Compaq.

Marklein said they wanted 'three to five' international agencies with expertise in consumer, technology, product and corporate PR.

HP will meet agencies that reply to the RFI, and then will issue an RFP.

HP is set to make a decision by early October, so that the 'new agency model' is running by the start of the new fiscal year, 1 November.

The new agencies will provide corporate communications, as well as PR for four business units: imaging and printing, personal systems group, enterprise systems group, and HP services.

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