Report by Jack Martin (below) Global chairman and chief executive officer
During my first full year as Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ global chairman and CEO, our worldwide team underwent a series of significant changes. As part of these changes, we rebranded the company, reorganized our regional structure and created an effective talent initiative that not only recruits strong candidates but also grows our current talent from within. During 2011, we took stronger steps to highlight our research and digital offerings – which have helped grow our client base – and established a stronger client service team. Together, these changes amount to much more than the adding of a word or the changing of a logo; they mark the beginning of a new era of strategic communications that integrates consulting with a tradition of innovative public relations services. I believe Hill+Knowlton Strategies is leading the way for the industry.
During this year of transition, Hill+Knowlton Strategies identified investments and priorities to enhance our company’s success. We created a new global position focused on client service across our network. The new position’s aim is client revenue expansion, and the retention and development of our H+K client leaders. Over the last year, the value of our largest 50 clients has grown 20% over budget.
We placed a strong emphasis and equal value on two core constituencies: our talent and our clients. Clients expect the best talent, and our talent expects blue-chip clients. Exemplary client service was complemented by our continued investment in talent, ensuring that the best people are available for every client team, regardless of geography.
Exemplary client service was complemented by our continued investment in talent, ensuring that the best people are available for every client team, regardless of geography
To ensure that we are able to provide the best possible counsel to our clients, H+K Strategies invested in senior leadership around the world. In the US, Ian Bailey and Claire Koeneman, who both have more than 20 years of corporate and financial communications experience, took the reins in New York and Chicago, respectively, and Dr Luis de la Calle, the former undersecretary for international trade negotiations in Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy, joined as president of H+K’s Latin America region. On the global level, Cassandra Carr, formerly the senior executive vice president of external affairs for AT&T, now serves as vice chair of talent and, finally, Ken Luce joined as global COO and brings deep expertise in crisis, corporate reputation management, public affairs and marketing communications.
With digital media increasingly becoming one of the dominant new ‘highways’ between traditional organizations and the public, H+K took significant steps in growing its global digital practice. Taking the lessons and best practices of the political world, in which a digital strategy is arguably the most important communications element, we sought leaders in that space to join the firm. Andrew Bleeker joined as global digital practice director after successfully running President Obama’s online marketing operation during the 2008 campaign, and Rishi Saha joined the digital team in Australia, the Middle East, Africa and South & Central Asia after running UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s digital communications office.
Throughout our regions, Hill+Knowlton Strategies has been chosen for numerous high-level campaigns for clients around the world. In East Africa, Procter & Gamble appointed H+K, along with the International Marketing Council of South Africa, to assist with maintaining the country’s momentum following its hosting of the World Cup. In Asia, we represented Yue Xiu in China and CJ-Jeil Jedang in Korea. Other key new clients include the Department of Health & Aging/NeHTA Australia and the Royal Canadian Mint in Canada, which named H+K as its agency of record. Europe continued to bring in successful clients such as P&G Global Olympics, SABIC, Brand South Africa and Novartis. The US, meanwhile, now represents Yahoo!, salesforce.com, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the PGA and Aon Corporation in various client campaigns. The firm’s technology practice added new clients, including Adobe Omniture, Facebook, MSFT in India and Etisalat in the Middle East. The practice also managed a massive re-launch of HP consumer products in China and took both LinkedIn and Responsys from private to public companies.
Enforcing our immersion in the ‘wisdom business,’ H+K Strategies launched Research+Data Insights (RDI), an independent organization with a focus on providing clients with data analytics and primary research – the basis of strategic and effective communications in a public environment. Following this, H+K Strategies introduced its Corporate Advisory Group as a new strategic service providing business advisory counsel, focusing exclusively on meeting the public risk and reputational challenges of client leaders at the C-suite and board levels.
H+K Strategies has also been active in assisting companies like Procter & Gamble and HP with their sustainability initiatives while also providing pro bono counsel for organizations including Text4Baby, an award-winning educational platform for expectant mothers, and for United Cerebral Palsy, a leading disability rights and advocacy organization. Additionally, H+K assisted Operation Smile, a volunteer-based organization that provides free medical treatment for children of impoverished families suffering from various facial deformities, as well as for Mercedes Benz China with its Happy Music Classroom Project, which provided 125 fully furnished music classrooms and donated musical instruments to over 40,000 students across rural China.
Our goal at Hill+Knowlton Strategies is to occupy a ‘fifth seat’ in our clients’ executive suites, alongside the traditional advisors to the world’s largest corporations
Our goal at Hill+Knowlton Strategies is to occupy a ‘fifth seat’ in our clients’ executive suites, alongside the traditional advisors to the world’s largest corporations – the attorney, the accountant, the banker and the management consultant. We believe that strategic communications today belongs at the forefront of corporate strategy. We will continue to elevate this offering in 2012 and earn the right to be seated in our clients’ C-suites. We’re changing the industry, and we’re excited for the road ahead.