Porter Novelli to close San Francisco office

Fellow Omnicom firm FleishmanHillard will absorb Porter’s clients and employees in the city.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO: Porter Novelli is closing its San Francisco office in the latest in a series of moves by new agency CEO David Bentley to reallocate resources and streamline the firm’s operations. 

At the start of next month, Porter’s Bay Area clients and employees will begin to transition to FleishmanHillard’s office in the region, according to a source familiar with the matter. 

Bentley confirmed the plans via email on Thursday. 

“After considerable evaluation of Porter Novelli’s global business, [Porter] has taken strategic action to reduce complexities and streamline operations in order to drive growth and invest in new opportunities for talent, clients and the business going forward,” he said, via email. “Effective July 1, we will begin the process of integrating five of our digital and technology clients, along with the team that supports those clients, with sister agency FleishmanHillard in San Francisco.” 

No jobs will be eliminated as a result of the office closure, the source said.

“FleishmanHillard is thrilled to welcome our new colleagues from Porter Novelli to our San Francisco office,” said Tim O’Keeffe, Fleishman San Francisco GM. “They bring with them strong digital and technology expertise that will complement our work and enhance our team.”

The San Francisco closure follows two other office-consolidation decisions by Bentley that were announced this week. 

Porter is planning to integrate its office in Brussels with that of Ketchum. Peter Otten, MD of Ketchum Brussels, will lead the combined business as MD, while Luc Michiels, acting MD of Porter Novelli Brussels, will be financial director. 

Porter has also agreed to a strategic partnership with healthcare-focused sister Omnicom Public Relations Group firm Rabin Martin. The two agencies are planning to move into a new Midtown Manhattan location in New York this fall and combine their London offices, but retain individual P&Ls and maintain their brands. 

“[Bentley] quickly saw how diverse and spread out [Porter’s] resources were,” a source familiar with the matter said about the motivation behind the changes. “He also saw there were opportunities inside OPRG.”

Observers have long speculated about a merger of OPRG agencies, but the same source said these recent moves do not presage a larger deal. The source also said the shuffling of OPRG resources is more about the status of each shop and not a reflection of the pandemic's effect on the holding company.

“In some markets, where it makes sense, we are looking for opportunities to integrate and looking for what makes sense for our people and our clients, of course,” the source said. “It’s not a harbinger of a bigger move.”

Porter’s revenue dropped 4% in 2019 to $145 million, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report 2020.

Both Porter and Fleishman are part of OPRG, which was set up in 2016 and also houses Marina Maher Communications, Portland, Cone and Mercury. Former OPRG CEO Karen van Bergen stepped down at the start of the year and was replaced by John Doolittle on an interim basis as the holding company searches for a replacement. 

Omnicom’s PR revenue increased by 0.2% organically in Q1 to $331.6 million.

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