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Archives: February 2009

Council of PR Firms: Industry Expanded in ’08, 67% Predict ’09 To Be Flat or Down

The Council of PR Firms released their “2009 State Of Public Relations Survey” today and the results are somewhat along the lines of what one would expect. 2008 saw growth, although not at levels seen in 2007, while a vast majority of agencies are not optimistic about growth in 2009. Among the findings from the survey, conducted with Kelton Research:

- 61% percent of firms grew last year, at an average rate of 4%; a drop off vs. 2007 growth of 10%.

- 28% of firms predict a decline in revenue for 2009, 33% predict growth, 39% expect to stay flat. The average revenue projection for the year among the 57 participating firms was essentially flat (-0.2%).

- Special events (60%) and celebrity spokespeople (44%) are most likely to be cut from PR campaigns in 2009 due to economic concerns, while social media (79%) and digital content creation (55%) top the list for growth potential.

One number we certainly welcome, but find hard to beleive: 30% of participating executives say their firms are currently hiring. “The public relations industry enjoyed a healthy and steady expansion mid-decade but experienced a slowdown in business toward the end of 2008…We are realistic about what to expect in 2009.” said Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of PR Firms in a statement. View the complete report on the Council of PR Firm’s website.

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PR Maven Matthew Freud Invests in M&C Saatchi


Well known PR exec Matthew Freud, husband of Rupert Murdoch‘s daughter Elisabeth, has invested $800,000 of his personal savings for a 3.3% take in M&C Saatchi, making him the largest shareholder behind the agency’s four founders.

According to AdAge, “Freud Communications is currently working with M&C Saatchi on a government anti-obesity campaign. Other clients include Walmart-owned Asda, the London 2012 Olympics, KFC, Pizza Hut, Sony, Volkswagen, Sky, Nike, Pepsi, American Express and Paramount Pictures.”

In other Freud news, the agency recently announced a partnership with HL Group, run by former Ralph Lauren CMO Hamilton South. However, Freud’s staff will move into HL Group’s New York-based headquarters, leading to rumors that this more akin to an acquisition type deal than a partnership.

Freud CEO Lisa Dallos told PRWeek earlier this month, “all clients are coming with us and most staff.” Meanwhile, Freud COO Chris Giglio confirmed to PRNewser he’ll be making the move. “I’ll be at HL group starting this Monday,” he said.

[image: Matthew Freud]

Georgia PR Firm’s GONSO Journalism

Hunter S. Thompson pioneered Gonzo journalism in 1970, and now it appears Georgia PR agency Alisias has invented GONSO journalism–its own news service, the Georgia Online News Service. Currently there’s nothing on the site, though there is a Facebook Group with a description.

The Atlanta Progressive News pulls apart the connections between Alisias and GONSO, and the conflicts of interest. Alisias handles controversial local and state issues campaigns including the Atlanta Housing Authority. The firm and the news service have the same address, and are tied together by Rick White, President of Alisias and the Chair of GONSO.

Writers and editors for GONSO span from right to left, including former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed, and former columnist for Creative Loafing John Sugg. Air America Radio founder John Sinton is Publisher.

The APN story also discovered that former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Ed Board writer Lyle Harris has Alisias business cards, and is a columnist with GONSO.

So far it’s a free email blast, and according to the Facebook description, the “news feeds that go to every Georgia newspaper and broadcast station as well as more than 15,000 opinion leaders across the state”. I sent emails to Sugg and White, and notes through Facebook and have yet to receive response to the conflict questions. What’s not clear to me either is whether or not GONSO will act like a traditional wire service with potential for pickup in dailies as actual bylines. Even if it doesn’t reach that status, the blasts could sway a few time-pressed journalists making it an effective yet complicated and dubious PR tactic.

The Ticker: Get more from your agency; A-Rod backlash; PRWeek doesn’t get Twitter; Jossip doesn’t get PR; SF Chronicle flacking for Hearst…

WPP Chief Executive Sorrell: Things Will Pick Up “Maybe in the Second Half of This Year”


Recession be damned, the Paley Center for Media held their annual Gala Dinner at Cipriani 42nd in New York last night, raising over $1 million for the center’s “ongoing efforts to increase the public’s understanding of the media and its growing significance in today’s society through public and industry programs.”

Scripps Networks Interactive Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer Ken Lowe and WPP Chief Executive Sir Martin Sorrell were the evening’s honorees.

Sorrell, whose WPP includes PR firms Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton among its holdings, is more optimistic than some marketing communications execs when it comes to global economic conditions. He told those in attendance that he thinks things will pick up, “maybe in the second half of this year.” In terms of the three main areas of focus for the company, he said they fall under emerging markets, “consumer insights,” referencing the acquisition of TNS, and “new media.”

RELATED: An Interview with Sir Martin Sorrell

Enfatico Lays Off 8% of Workforce


Just several days after a video interview with PRWeek and DM News in which he stated, “We’re in the throes of a lot of new business development,” Enfatico CEO Torrence Boone announced the agency will decrease their workforce “by approximately 8 percent.”

From the agency’s blog:

Persistent cost pressures require that we reorganize our operations to better align our business with what is happening in the global economy. These changes also put us in closer alignment with Dell’s new global structure and reduced marketing spend. We acknowledged these moves in an internal memo (see below to download) that we distributed today.

AgencySpy is reporting that the cuts equal about 64 people out of Enfactico’s 800 strong global workforce. PRWeek‘s Aarti Shah says the agency currently employs “30 full-time staff on its PR team, which makes up less than 4%” of total staff. No word if PR was among the cuts.

Fleishman’s Kansas City Office Decimated

Fleishman Hillard’s Kansas City office–one of its oldest–suffered somewhere north of a dozen layoffs this week, despite “losing no existing clients” according to the office founder and General Manager Betsy Solberg’s quote in the St. Louis Business Journal. It was reported last week that the Omnicom division would have to begin cutting staff at the single digit level.

Our source close to the situation explained that FH is doing what they can to keep people on staff, such as cutting days rather than benefits, and cutting top level people in Kansas City, as well as Los Angeles. Whereas we also heard a lot of support staff got cut in the New York office.

Two voicemails were not returned, and of the 42 public email addresses available for the Kansas City office, fifteen bounced back, and four generated out-of-office responses.

This particular story is hardly unusual, though this round of layoffs generated a good amount of tips in our inbox. One thing is sure though, if firms aren’t losing clients, they’re facing a roster looking to cut or freeze spending, and see what happens.

The Ticker: Bankrupt in Philly, Papal PR, Personal and Corporate Brands Collide…

Spin the Agencies of Record


This edition of Spin the Agencies of Record is upbeat with two agencies landing multiple clients. Wins this week include a golf club/spa, a gaming publisher, a promo-codes site, a job site, and the iconic boxing equipment brand Everlast:

Everlast comes out swinging with MWW Group as agency of record

Doylestown, PA firm Furia Rubel wins five suburban Philadelphia accounts ranging from the Bucks Club golf & spa, to the Chatsworth Consulting Group

5WPR lands,, and integrated multimedia agency pLot Multi

Ogilvy plays well with gaming publisher Themis Group after beating out 5 other agencies for the six-figure account. Themis publishes The Escapist.

New CBS SVP of Comm. Draws Attention for GOP Ties


CBS SVP of Comm. Jeff Ballabon has only been on the job one day and is already drawing attention for his Republican ties. Ira Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council writes in a Huffington Post column, “This guy is very far out there with his partisan rhetoric…It’s astonishing that CBS News would name Ballabon to its senior management.”

However, Ballabon insists that he will come to CBS as a non-partisan and won’t have any influnce over content. He tells TVNewser: “I am very happy to be here at CBS News. I hope to make a very positive contribution for a long time to come. I will be a nonpartisan member of this team dedicated to communicating all the good news happening at CBS.”