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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Taaffe’

Former Agency Head Paul Taaffe Joins Groupon

Paul Taaffe, who served as chairman and CEO of the pre-rebrand Hill & Knowlton, has joined Groupon to head up the company’s PR function. Or improve it, if you ask Bloomberg.

Taaffe stepped down from H+K in January 2011. He had been with the firm for 18 years and had served as the agency head since 2002.

He steps into a role that had been filled by Brad Williams, who made an appearance in today’s Roll Call column for his new role at Weber Shandwick. Williams left Groupon in August 2011 after only a few months.

As Bloomberg points out (and we noted), Groupon has gotten into some PR trouble over the past year. The company presented its first earnings report today since going public. The stock price dropped 14 percent after.

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Q&A With H&K’s Dan Bartlett: Trust is Important to a ‘Successful Growth Engine’

Photo: AP

There have been a series of leadership changes ever since the November announcement that Public Strategies and Hill & Knowlton would merge at the beginning of this year. Among those changes was Dan Bartlett‘s move into the role of president and CEO of H&K USA.

Yesterday afternoon, we sat down at the H&K offices here in New York to speak with the former White House counselor to President George W. Bush about politics and his current PR life. After the jump is part one of that Q&A, focused on what it’s like in his role, how the firm is dealing with the change, and H&K’s prospects for the future.

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H&K CEO Taaffe Stepping Down

Paul Taaffe, Hill & Knowlton’s chairman and CEO, is stepping down from his post. Taaffe has been with the firm 18 years and has served as CEO and chair since 2002, PRWeek reports.

It was announced in November that Hill & Knowlton and Public Strategies would merge. That merge took effect on January 1. Jack Martin, founder and chairman of Public Strategies, became global executive chairman of H&K. Martin is now also global CEO.

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Melissa Waggener Zorkin: Take a ‘Multi-Local’ Approach

The Council of PR Firms spoke with three CEOs – Burson-Marsteller’s Mark Penn, Hill & Knowlton’s Paul Taaffe, and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide’s Melissa Waggener Zorkin – to gather their thoughts about the global nature of the PR industry and how to be a part of it.

Waggener Zorkin discusses the need to be a part of the community you seek to enter, emphasizing that “what works in one part of the world isn’t necessarily the right approach for every region.”

Penn talked talent. “Clients appreciate proximity and your ability to be with them frequently,” he says, adding that staff members should have a global perspective.

Taaffe highlighted the need to educate new markets and take a “light touch.”

“These markets recoil if Americans come in and suggest they have superior skills,” he says.

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Cannes Recap: High Hopes For PR Agencies; Maybe Next Year?

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This was supposed to be the year that PR firms made a splash at what has traditionally been the advertising industry’s hottest party: The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Although PR category submissions were up 32%, many of the PR awards actually went to advertising agencies.

While PR agencies overall didn’t have a strong showing, it should be noted that this is only PR’s second year at a party that advertising has been hosting for the past 57.

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On the Podcast: Fallout from Rolling Stone‘s Gen. McChrystal profile, PR Loses at Cannes, and Ray Wert from Jalopnik


On the PRNewser podcast this week, we talked about the bombshell that is the Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal. PR guy immediately fired, we noted the stark contrast of news coming out of Afghanistan last August. At the time, it was discovered that the Rendon Group was profiling and recommending denying embeds to working journalists in the region.

Next up was the PR industry’s poor showing at the Cannes Lions awards, and Hill & Knowlton CEO Paul Taaffe‘s response.

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We turned to the editor-in-chief of one of our favorite blogs, Ray Wert of Jalopnik to find out more about the changing nature of auto coverage, great PR stunts, and which automakers do well on social media.

Do you think Ford is Wert’s favorite and Twitter is king? “For all the talk that [Ford's] Scott Monty gets, Honda is doing a good job,” he said.

Also: “Twitter is not important for consumers. It’s important for journalists, a small insider-y group, but Facebook has become very important for talking to large community base.” Tune in to hear more.

PR Firms Get Crushed at Cannes; Hill & Knowlton CEO Asks For Festival Name Change

This was supposed to be the year PR firms stormed advertising’s biggest party, the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

However, so far it seems most of the awards are being taken home by ad agencies, including the PR Lions, which was won by TBWA\Chiat\Day for their Gatorade “Replay” campaign (video above). Fleishman-Hillard did receive some creative credits on the submission, which had two high school football arch-rivals replay a game which they tied in November 1993. In other words, it was a PR stunt created by an ad firm.

Adweek‘s Brian Morrissey reports, “non-PR shops won 27 of the 42 gold and silver Lions awarded.” Paul Taaffe, CEO of Hill & Knowlton and PR jury chair issued a statement today which read in part:

The advertising industry is eating our lunch at these awards and the PR industry has to raise its game. There was a big increase in entries to the PR lions category overall but the number of entries from PR agencies was actually down. The PR industry has got to wake up and understand that our work can be exceptional and this is an opportunity to showcase that work in the best possible light. We need to do more.

Taaffe said he will speaking with festival organizers about removing the word advertising from the festival’s name. “Cannes Lions is no longer just an advertising festival. Good creative ideas can come from anybody but the different disciplines have grown up for a good reason and it is misleading to group all of these under the ‘advertising’ umbrella,” he said.

Wins by PR firms so far include Weber Shandwick’s Silver PR Lions for work with GLAXOSMITHKLINE, Fleishman Hillard’s Silver PR Lions for work with Papa John’ and Ogivly PR’s Silver PR Lions for work with Ford. Fleishman was the only U.S. based PR agency to win a Gold Lion, the second highest award after the Grand Prix.

Taaffe’s full statement after the jump.

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PR Category Submissions to Cannes Lions Up 32%

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The public relations industry continues to make inroads into what has traditionally been advertising’s biggest awards: the Cannes Lions.

Over the past year, there has been a focused effort, led by Hill & Knowlton, to get more PR agencies to submit for the awards. It seems the efforts are working.

According to a Cannes document, there are 571 PR entries this year, up 32% over last year. In the US there are 82 submissions, which is the biggest country representation followed by UK (59) and Sweden (52).

Overall, Cannes Lions says it has 24,242 total entries this year, up from 7% from 2009. Hill & Knowlton CEO Paul Taaffe will serve as Jury President of the PR Lions category at Cannes Lions 2010.

RELATED: How To Win a Cannes PR Lions

Hill & Knowlton Opens Colombia Office

Hill & Knowlton opened an office in Bogotá, Colombia, the agency announced today. Former Burson-Marsteller executive Mauricio Borja will lead the office as general manager. H&K now counts eight fully-owned and operated offices in Latin America.

Mark Thorne, H&K’s Global COO and head of Latin America is bullish on the Colombian market. “Economic growth has been consistent over the past four years with local and foreign investments increasing, particularly in mining, energy, manufacturing, banking, pharma, tourism, automotive and IT. This is a very good situation for our clients and H&K,” he said in a statement.

The move is not entirely surprising, as H&K CEO Paul Taaffe recently told PRNewser that the global market is “where the action is.”

How To: Win a Cannes PR Lions

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The Cannes Lions teamed up with The Council of PR Firms and USA Today today to host a breakfast in New York aimed at raising awareness for the festival’s PR Lions awards among U.S. PR agencies.

The largest advertising and marketing festival in the world, Cannes branched out into PR last year.

Hill & Knowlton is leading efforts to publicize the awards, and H&K CEO Paul Taaffe will serve as Jury President of the judges evaluating the PR Lions. Don’t worry agencies, Taaffe — and all judges for that matter — can’t vote on work from their agencies, or even be in the room while their work is being evaluated.

While 430 applications were received for the PR Lions in 2009, only 10% were from PR firms and of those 10%, only half were from the U.S. — about 20 applications total. Philip Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the festival, said that PR firms shouldn’t let advertising firms “steal your thunder” while encouraging more PR firms to submit.

After the event we caught up with Thomas to get his top five tips for PR agencies in terms of how to win a Cannes PR Lions.

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