Weber Shandwick CEO Diamond to take on wider PR role

NEW YORK - The Interpublic Group has confirmed that Harris Diamond, Weber Shandwick CEO, is to assume oversight of most of the marketing company's PR holdings.

Diamond, who was not available for comment, is also expected to continue in his WS role.

Under the arrangement, Diamond will now have management oversight of Golin/Harris International and The MWW Group. The firms' combined revenues for 2001, the last year that records were available, was $393 million. The only PR firm known not to be under his jurisdiction is Carmichael Lynch Spong, which reports through The Partnership, a separate operating arm of Interpublic. It is unclear as to where DeVries PR will sit in the structure.

Although each PR firm will remain as separate operating units, the senior management of each will report to Diamond. He will in turn report directly to new Interpublic CEO David Bell.

Larry Weber's future role at Interpublic is currently unclear. Weber, who sold his PR firm Weber Group (now WS) to Interpublic in 1996, has been CEO of Interpublic's Advanced Marketing Services operating group, which contains all of the PR holdings now overseen by Diamond.

Weber told PRWeek US that he is still head of AMS.

In an SEC filing last month, Interpublic hinted that it will likely dissolve AMS after it sells one of its biggest holdings, market data firm NFO Group. Interpublic has been actively shopping NFO, and hopes to use the proceeds from the sale to pay down some of its cumbersome debt.

A source close to Interpublic said that while AMS' dissolution is likely following the NFO sale, any announcement will likely be muted and not accompanied by a major structural realignment of firms, as some suspect.

Diamond's move comes just seven weeks after Bell replaced the embattled John Dooner as CEO of the marketing conglomerate. In the short time since that shake-up, Diamond has also been given control of the Interpublic branding unit FutureBrand.

Bell, who was the chief of the marketing holding firm True North until it was acquired by Interpublic in 2001, has worked closely with Diamond in the past. At True North, Diamond was head of the company's largest PR unit, BSMG. Subsequent to the True North acquisition, BSMG was combined with WS.

Sources familiar with the situation say Bell gained respect for Diamond while the two worked together at True North, and the latter is now considered one of Bell's most trusted lieutenants.

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