WASHINGTON: Porter Novelli’s global president Jennifer Swint is stepping down and her position is being eliminated.
Swint’s last day is October 31, according to a leaked internal memo sent by Porter CEO Brad MacAfee to its worldwide offices.
In the memo, MacAfee framed Swint’s departure as another step in the Omnicom agency’s transformation to a consultancy model.
"In order to be successful against this new model, we are making a change to leadership in order to enable a full transition into the global purpose communications consultancy," MacAfee wrote.
Swint and MacAfee agreed that the global president role should be "eliminated" as part of Porter’s evolution and considering the size and scale of the agency, he added.
The role of global president was created at Porter to "drive growth among our top clients and oversee the key strategic priorities as we evolve," wrote MacAfee.
After Swint leaves, he continued, "the responsibility for organic growth will continue to be owned by client relationship leaders, with additional support from practice leaders."
MacAfee then called out EVP and global talent leader Margaret-Ann Cole as someone who will push Porter’s transformation to a consultancy model. Cole came to Porter from Accenture in May.
MacAfee did not respond to requests for comment. Swint deferred questions to a Porter representative who confirmed via an emailed statement that Swint was leaving.
"We thank [Swint] for bringing strategic thinking, creativity and innovation to our teams and clients during her time at Porter Novelli," the statement said.
Swint was named global president amid a Porter leadership shakeup in July of last year. Before that, she was Porter’s North American president, a role she was promoted to two years earlier when then Porter CEO Karen van Bergen was appointed CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group and MacAfee, the former North America regional president, was named CEO of Porter.
"I have enjoyed being involved in Porter Novelli’s transformation to a global purpose communications consultancy, and look forward to watching the agency deliver on the promise," said Swint. "I am excited about building on my experiences as I create the next chapter of my professional journey, and wish the agency and my colleagues nothing but continued success."
Porter has made a number of senior personnel moves lately. On October 7, the agency hired Joe Farren, formerly an EVP at Weber Shandwick’s public affairs division Powell Tate, as MD of its Washington, DC, office.
Lisa Unsworth was named the MD in Boston in July, replacing Byron Calamese, who is now an MD for Zeno Group in Washington and New York. And in August, Porter hired Justin O’Neill for the newly-created position of SVP of innovation, based in Seattle.
In 2018, revenue for Porter grew 1% to $150.5 million, according to the PRWeek Agency Business Report 2019.
On Tuesday, Omnicom Group reported that revenue for its PR agencies dropped 3.8% organically in Q3 to $337.2 million, compared with Q3 2018. PR accounted for 9.3% of the holding company’s Q3 business.
In its entirety, Omnicom, also the parent company of Ketchum, FleishmanHillard and others, saw organic revenue rise 2.2% in Q3 to $3.6 billion.
Editor's note: This story was updated on October 15 with comment from Swint.