Public Strategies and Hill & Knowlton Merge PR Operations in Global Powerhouse

Public Strategies Austin


The week debuted with big news from Austin-based Public Strategies Inc. and Hill & Knowlton, the two companies announcing they will merge on the first day of 2011, joining PR forces to create a “distinctive global communications consultancy.”  Both companies are owned by WPP Group, a London-based international marketing and communications conglomerate.

The merger will result in a large international public affairs and public relations firm with 2,300 employees from 44 countries. The stars of the process will be Jack Martin and Dan Bartlett, the two top executives of Public Strategies, who will enjoy significantly expanded roles in the merger.

Jack Martin will be appointed global executive chairman of Hill & Knowlton. The 56-year-old PR expert is the founder and currently the executive chairman of Public Strategies. Bartlett, 39, who is also a well know figure of the PR world, former counselor to President George W. Bush, will become president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton USA and chairman and CEO of Public Strategies.

Hill & Knowlton will preserve their global CEO, Paul Taaffe, after the merger.

“We are excited about expanding on the global stage,” Martin said. “This gives us a premier platform on which to showcase our leadership and further expand our offer of unique new business strategies for our clients.”

Although merged, both companies will keep their own brand and client base, at least for the moment.

“H&K and Public Strategies will be a formidable combination and industry leader, combining global expertise and talent with strong financial services, public affairs, research and digital capabilities” aimed at senior corporate executives, said Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, in a statement.

While the roles of its top executives will increase significantly, Public Strategies’ operation in the near future are not expected to be highly impacted by the merger. The company that right now employs 175 workers worldwide, with operations in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, New York, Washington and Mexico City, specializes in crisis management and strategic communications consulting in varying fields, some of their most famous clients being Dell Inc. and AT&T Inc. Hill & Knowlton, the company they will soon merge with, has public relations and communications operations in Dallas and Houston.

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