Porter Novelli hires Joe Farren to lead DC office

Farren was at the Weber political shop Powell Tate for seven-plus years.

Joe Farren
Joe Farren

WASHINGTON: Porter Novelli has hired Joe Farren, formerly an EVP at Weber Shandwick’s public affairs division Powell Tate, as MD of the Omnicom agency’s Washington, DC, office.

Farren, whose first day was Monday, reports to Porter CEO Brad MacAfee. Farren replaces Erin Turner, who was interim MD of Porter’s Washington, DC, office for a year. The job had been Jennifer Swint’s before she became Porter’s global president and chief client officer. According to LinkedIn, Turner is now associate director of strategic communications for Palladian Partners. 

The firm has not finalized the full list of Farren’s direct reports. 

"Porter is positioning itself in the marketplace in a very smart and astute way given all that’s going on in the world of comms and marketing and brand reputation," said Farren.

Farren said Porter’s approach to purpose convinced him to take the job.

"[MacAfee] is such a thoughtful and insightful guy and he was really able to help me see the power of purpose as a go-to-market strategy," he said. "And how the world is changing and brands are evolving provides Porter with a very unique opportunity in the marketplace."

Farren said his first priorities in the new role will be focusing Porter’s clients in the purpose and health spaces, as well as tech and telecom.

Prior to Porter, Farren spent a little more than seven and a half years at Powell Tate, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

"We’re happy to see Joe take on new challenges," said Paul Massey, president of Powell Tate. "He made great contributions in his time at Powell Tate."

Porter also made three other hires recently. In July, Lisa Unsworth was named the MD in Boston, replacing Byron Calamese, who is now an MD for the Zeno Group in Washington and New York. Unsworth was previously an MD at Arnold Worldwide. She also reports to MacAfee. 

In August, Porter hired Justin O’Neill for the newly-created position of SVP of Innovation, based in Seattle. O’Neill was previously an SVP of tech at Access Brand Communications (a Ketchum stand-alone agency).  He reports to Erin Osher, Porter’s Seattle MD.

And in September, Porter named Traci Mogil to a new SVP of health role in New York. Mogil was previously SVP of health at Weber.

In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services halted work on a $2.25 million contract with Porter after lawmakers raised questions about how the contract funds were being used.

In 2018, revenue for Porter grew 1% to $150.5 million, according to the PRWeek Agency Business Report 2019.

Omnicom PR revenue dropped in Q2. Taken as a whole, the holding company’s PR firms turned in a disappointing second quarter, with revenue down 1.3% organically to $349.3 million. For the first six months of the year, Omnicom PR revenue has dropped 0.9% to $683.4 million. The holding company’s PR firms include FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Mercury, Porter Novelli and Cone. 

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