In the past, public relations mostly entailed managing brand images. Often, the marketing team handled brand management, and companies only remembered the importance of PR when a crisis hit. Now, companies recognize the importance of taking proactive action. Public relations agencies capitalize on this by providing a variety of services crossing over into marketing. These services not only build brand image, but also engage customers to translate interest into sales. Hunter PR capitalizes on this method to build a successful brand.
A Brief History
Barbara Hunter founded Hunter PR in 1989, becoming the first woman in America to run a public relations agency. In its initial stages, the firm focused efforts on national consumer brands in the food and nutrition sector. It aimed to help clients achieve sales and marketing goals by using strategic public relations methods Barbara devised. In 1993, the PRSA recognized her contribution to the field by presenting her with the Gold Anvil in honor of her individual lifetime achievement in PR.
When Barbara retired in 2000, she turned the company over to a trusted team. This team of longtime Hunter PR employees expanded the company by taking on other clients in a variety of fields. They used research creating measurable results. By mid-2002, Hunter PR made headway with their research by launching the Food Survey, which became a yearly project.
The company’s innovative ideas and good work earned them the awards of ‘Digital PR Firm of the Year’ and ‘A Top Place to Work” from PR News in 2010. The following year, the company won a ‘Best New Production Launch’ award from PRSA for their involvement with a Kraft campaign. This brought in more new clients, and even two new partners: Gigi Russo and Donetta Allen.
Where Hunter Public Relations Stands Today
Hunter PR still commands respect as a mid-sized marketing communications firm in North America. The company boasts over a hundred full-time workers spread out over their New York and London offices. Research drives how Hunter PR devises successful programs for itself and its clients. It uses research to understand the consumer market and engage customers. The company blends traditional public relations methods with digital marketing involving the use of social media. Hunter PR first got its start in the food industry. But, their recent clientele includes companies from the home and lifestyle, and health and beauty industries.
Leadership at Hunter Public Relations
Seven key professionals keep Hunter PR steered in the right direction. While the team features a diverse make-up, all seven members share a passion for public relations and an involved approach to managing their clients’ brands.
Grace Leong, Managing Partner
Grace Leong heads the seven key professionals as the Managing Partner. She understands the importance of going the extra mile to meet the client’s needs. This approach to work helps Hunter PR keep some unusually long client relationships in the business. She holds an MBA from Rutgers University and looks forward to carrying on Hunter’s tradition of keeping Hunter PR a female-led business.
Jon Lyon, Head of the Luxury Marketing Department
Jon Lyon began his public relations career right out of college, almost by accident. While working for a wine-marketing firm, he worked his way up from an assistant to a traveling public relations liaison between his firm and their clients. He then pulled some strings to get a job at Hunter. Barbara Hunter hired him herself. He heads the Luxury Marketing department. His colleagues praise him as a connoisseur of wine and fine dining.
Jason Winocour, Vice President of the Traditional Media Department
Jason Winocour boasts a fifteen-year tenure with Hunter PR. He experienced the traditional form of public relations before social media existed, and still believes in its importance in contemporary PR. Not surprisingly, he heads the company’s Traditional Media department. He also does a lot of work with the firm’s pro bono PR initiatives, which it offers to not-for-profit companies representing specific causes.
Mark Newman, Vice President of Social and Digital Media
Mark Newman got his start at Hunter PR as a Junior Account Executive. Unlike Winocour, he places greater emphasis on the effectiveness and convenience of digital marketing and social media. He built a reputation at Hunter PR based on his creativity and big ideas. Newman says to do this, he gathers inspiration by opening himself to new things that he might not have otherwise do given a chance. For example, while studying at Brigham Young University, he took two years off to do missionary work in South America. Newman claims he learned a lot of valuable life lessons from that experience still valuable today.
Donetta Allen, Vice President of Social and Digital Media
Donetta Allen also began her career at Hunter PR as a Junior Account Executive and spent most of her time working on kids’ brands. She believes while many people think the marketing team best handles social media, companies need PR professionals to manage their social information through these platforms. She works alongside Mark Newman with managing the social and digital media department.
Gigi Russo, Vice President of the Hispanic, Wine & Spirits, Food & Beverage, and Lifestyle & Beauty Divisions
Gigi Russo grew up in a Texas border town, giving her the unique experience of living and traveling between the U.S. and Mexico. She speaks both Spanish and English fluently and understands the uniqueness of American and Hispanic cultures. For this reason, Russo oversees the firm’s multicultural strategies. She loves the beach and knows a good deal about affordable wine brands.
Erin Hanson, Vice President of Health & Beauty and Home & Lifestyle Divisions
Erin Hanson built fifteen years of experience in public relations, working for Hunter PR – not once, but twice. While she enjoys working for the company, she counts her five years away as a learning experience allowing her to bring new expertise to the table. She believes in the importance of team effort driving results in both her professional and personal life.
Impressive PR Clientele
Hunter PR first started its business with one client, Tabasco. Fast forward twenty-six years later and this client still remains a part of the Hunter family. This is not unusual for Hunter PR. The firm boasts relationships with other clients more than ten years old, and averages a relationship span of six years.
Some past and current clients Include Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Post, Campbell’s, American Heart Association, Facebook, Red Bull, Jell-O, Arby’s, and Dole.
Strategic PR Approach
Many PR firms create objectives and strategies for clients, based on what they think best suits their needs. While Hunter PR relies a great deal on their in-depth research and expertise, they work with clients to decide what objectives to meet and how to meet them.
The firm’s marketing communications approach include traditional media relations, social and digital media marketing, influencer seeding and third-party endorsements, strategic partnerships, and equity-building strategies
The company uses a combination of these approaches to draw customers to the brand by increasing visibility. Their work includes long-term representation for clients, and short-term campaign services.
Hunterpreter PR Blog
Hunter makes practical use of its research skills by doing case studies for both iconic and emerging brands. They also use these skills to write authoritative blog posts on a wide area of issues affecting PR professionals, clients, and consumers. Because the blog appeals to different kinds of readers, it increases traffic to Hunter’s website and improves their visibility. This benefits not just the firm, but the clients they represent.
International PR Expansion
In 2015, Hunter PR made the strategic decision to venture outside of the North American domain. The firm opened its first office outside of the U.S., in the U.K. From this location, the agency hopes to tap into the European market, and beyond. The company named Alex Conway as Managing Director of the London branch. She worked with the company for eight years and knows how to translate the effectiveness of the American team into new procedures at the London office.
Hunter PR’s first assignment in London came from their first client, Tabasco charging them with the task of a more streamlined and global public relations brand strategy.
The company grossed just above $20 million in 2014 and celebrated a third consecutive year of double-digit growth. Hunter PR estimates an average growth rate of 10% across all sectors for that period. The firm’s healthcare sector performed best. That area showed an increase of 23% from the year before.
In August of 2014, the agency sold to MDC Partners.