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Kekst Promotes Larry Rand to Chief Executive; Gershon Kekst Moves to Advisory Role

Day to day operations of the powerful IR and M&A PR shop Kekst, Inc. will no longer be handled by namesake Gershon Kekst. Senior partner Larry Rand will become Chief Executive effective September 1st, while Kekst moves to the advisory role of executive chairman.

Kekst founded the firm 40 years ago, and sold it to Publicis Group SA two summers ago. Publicis combined its PR holdings including MS&L Worldwide, Publicis Consultants Worldwide, PublicisLive, Publicis Meetings, Emotion, Freud, and Kekst & Co under the name MS&L Group last November.

Full text of the Rand and Kekst’s memos to staff are after the jump:


July 29, 2010

To All Staff

It is my pleasure to share with you the appointment of Larry Rand as Kekst & Company’s president and chief executive officer, effective Sept. 1, 2010.

While it is my desire is to step away from the daily management of the firm at this time, I do plan to remain active in a newly created role as executive chairman, continuing to work closely with clients and mentoring our colleagues.

As I pass the baton to Larry, who has played such a key role here throughout our history, he will communicate with you his plans for the firm’s leadership structure and, very importantly, how we will continue to capitalize on present and future strategic growth opportunities.

Implicit in our planning and his leadership are three important and fundamental objectives:

1. Ensuring the highest quality of work and professional service on behalf of our clients.
2. Building on our brand and competitive positioning.
3. Laying the groundwork for growth while setting the stage for future firm leadership and exciting management/career opportunities for our professionals.

In appointing Larry, I fully appreciate that over the years we have developed very significant professional strengths and experience throughout the firm which, I believe, are second-to-none in the public relations business. Ours is a unique firm whose collective experience and judgment are highly-regarded in the marketplace…among our clients and those independent advisers who refer us into matters in which they believe we can make a meaningful difference. Therefore, inherent in the ability to lead a ‘special’ firm such as ours, is the requisite management skill set to permit our extraordinarily talented people to do what they do best and to foster a culture in which they can flourish…professionally and personally.

Larry is uniquely qualified for this responsibility. I eagerly anticipate his energetic leadership of Kekst & Company.

Please join me in congratulating Larry on his appointment.

Thank you!
Gershon

Internal memo from Mr. Rand:

To All Staff

As we considered how best to transition the leadership of the firm, there were several key objectives–the most important of which was that any change should be evolutionary in nature and have, as its underpinning, the goal of fostering meaningful growth and setting a clear path for our future. We hope today’s announcement meets both objectives.

As always, an important pillar for growing the firm is to have a management structure that enables us to take advantage of the many opportunities that exist in the marketplace. For a firm such as ours, with the enviable reputation we have earned over the decades, we must have a structure that is entrepreneurial in nature, fosters innovation and creativity, encourages people to “think outside the box,” and provides us with the best ways for us to fully capitalize on those opportunities.

To this end, I am delighted that in his new role as executive chairman, Gershon will continue to be active with clients and continue to mentor our people as well as being one of our most important sounding boards. For his agreeing to do this, I speak for all of us by saying how extremely grateful we are.

In terms of management structure, we are forming two new working committees: an Executive Committee and an Operations Committee. I will be a member of each committee.

The Executive Committee will consist of: Jim Fingeroth, Jeffrey Taufield and Tom Davies. It will be responsible for setting policies and procedures for the firm, including strategic decisions on growth and expansion, new business development, approval of all compensation, and interaction with the leadership of the MS+L Group and Publicis.

The Operations Committee will consist of: Eric Berman, Todd Fogarty, Michael Freitag, Ruth Pachman, and Lissa Perlman. This committee will be responsible for the daily operations of the firm, including human resources (recruitment and professional development), resource allocation, quality control (client performance reviews and client relations), as well as making recommendations on compensation based upon individual performance, and all administrative functions.

We fully expect and will encourage many other talented professionals within the firm, beyond those on these committees, to participate actively in exploring growth initiatives and in managing firm functions. Assignments will be made shortly.

We also need to implement a more aggressive growth strategy for the future. As part of our initiatives, we will be developing and expanding the firm’s special niche areas of expertise that go beyond our historic core strengths in M&A, crisis management, investor relations and media relations. In order to build upon these special strengths we will put in place “Practice Leaders” who will help in generating new business from prospective clients as well as expanding business opportunities with our present client base. We believe the practice groups will provide greater focus on our competence in areas that complement our core strengths and will help us generate increased billings.

Finally, we all understand the importance of revenue growth which is one of–if not the–most important priority for everyone in this firm as it influences many other considerations—including future career development and compensation.

We intend to utilize the incredible brand we have built over the years and identify ways to further strengthen our considerable competitive positioning in the marketplace and better serve our increasingly global client base. We will place an intense focus on our existing clients to see what other areas and opportunities exist for us to expand our scope of services we can provide them. We will continue to identify additional ways to deepen our working relationships and collaborative efforts with our sister companies within Publicis, including the MS+L Group and their other excellent resources, to better serve our clients’ global communications requirements and to generate new and additional business for all of us.

Like Gershon, I have every confidence in our firm and its future. We are well-regarded as the premier “go-to” firm on complex communications matters. We have built an extraordinary professional capability. And, we have succeeded as a business because we, by dint of our strategic thinking and by executing assignments well, have earned the trust of our clients and respect of those who refer business to us. That has been in our DNA from the start; that will not change.

Thank you,
Larry

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