MSL walks away from PR Council for 2020

The Publicis Groupe firm is investing fees back into the agency.

Diana Littman, MSL U.S. CEO
Diana Littman, MSL U.S. CEO

NEW YORK: MSL has not renewed its membership in the PR Council for 2020, stepping away from the agency-focused industry organization for at least one year.

MSL U.S. CEO Diana Littman said she made the decision to walk away from the group in December to invest membership fees back into the agency. 

“For 2020, I have made a decision from a financial standpoint in terms of where I want to put my resources and reinvest [them] back into the agency during our growth journey,” she said.

PR Council president Kim Sample said Littman also told her that the non-renewal was a financial decision. 

“I think, based on what I heard, is they can’t fit it in the budget,” she said. “[Littman] told me that they needed to take a break to reinvest in the agency and that she hoped to be back as a member in 2021.”

The PR Council charges $50,000 for tier-one memberships that are reserved for agencies with $60 million-plus in annual revenue, according to its website. MSL earned $456 million in revenue in 2018, a 3% decline from the year prior, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report

Littman would not commit to re-upping with the Council next year. 

“Basically, what I can tell you is I really believe in the PR Council, in the mission the PR Council has and the work [Sample] and her team are doing to further the industry,” she said.

Other than Brunswick Group, MSL is the only top 10 PR firm that is not a member of the organization, according to the roster of about 100 agencies on the council’s website. 

The newly elected chair of the council, BCW global president Jim Joseph, could not be reached for comment. 

Sample said she is unaware of any other large firms departing the group recently. 

“I don’t know of anyone in my tenure,” said Sample, who took over the organization in August 2018. “If you look at the PRWeek list of large agencies, we’ve got most of them.”

In 2019 and 2020, the PR Council added Cognito, Day One Agency, Glenecho Group, Gladstone Place Partners, Greenroom, GCI Health, Mueller Communications, Parasol, Praytell, Red Havas, Silverline Communications and TrailRunner, according to a list provided by Sample. She said the council’s membership roles have also grown significantly. 

“We have agencies come and go,” Sample said. “This year we had substantially more join. Very few declined their membership. Typically, there is some movement at the smaller end. We might have another member go where they think they’ll get potentially more value, say more business referrals. [But] there has been very little movement.”

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