In spite of difficult economic conditions around the globe Weber Shandwick saw growth among its top 40 clients worldwide and across all practice areas. In the first half of 2010, a steady stream of new business from the likes of Bank of America, PepsiCo and Samsung, as well as work from existing clients such as General Motors, Microsoft and Unilever, resulted in annual growth of more than seven per cent.
In this period Weber Shandwick became the first UK public relations agency to win a Cannes Lion two years in a row, and the only UK PR agency ever to have received the international consultancy of the year award from both the PRCA and UK PRWeek in the same year. It also won nine European SABRE Awards.
With 81 offices in 40 countries and affiliates that expand the network to 121 offices in 76 countries, Weber Shandwick operates in virtually every major media, government and business centre on six continents. In the last year it added to the tally with offices in Seoul and Amsterdam.
Looking to the future, it has made several senior hires, including Lisa Sepulveda as president of global consumer marketing, Greg Power as president, Canada, and Kim Hoang as European digital communications practice leader. It also launched INLINE Communications, which it describes as “an exciting new marketing platform designed to integrate digital and traditional activity in a strategic and consistent manner”. The agency surveyed nearly 5,000 consumers in Europe about purchasing goods and services, and how influential various information sources are in helping to make decisions. This helped the agency create a profile for the target audience, mapping how and where they are influenced, which has become the template for the agency’s comms activity.
The agency lists among its highlights the growth of digital innovation in-house. There are now more than 250 strategists, producers, designers, developers, bloggers, syndication and analytics experts in the agency’s offices worldwide.
Q&A – Harris Diamond, CEO, Weber Shandwick
How has the economic climate changed the way you work?
The economic crisis placed more pressure on our teams as we’ve had to do more, which is basically the requirement of clients, who have less. For that, I am very thankful to the people who work across the global network at Weber Shandwick. With an eye on tough economic conditions, clients sought our ideas and execution on better engaging customers, communicating with employees, spreading word-of-mouth through social and emerging media, managing issues and crises, amplifying social responsibility and creating growth opportunities.
Which three offices have been experiencing the greatest growth over the 12 months to July 31 2010? Why?
New York, San Francisco/Sunnyvale and Hong Kong. Offices grow based on the market conditions, intellectual capital, and our ability to enhance both in-market clients and clients entering new markets, all while having communications programs where they can see a return on investment. In the case of these three offices, and many of our other offices, staff understanding the communications landscapes, coupled with our vertical specialisations and our knowledge of the local geography – have all contributed to growth.
What were your agency’s three highlights of the past year?
Despite economic conditions, digital growth and innovation, continued market leadership along with an expansion in our portfolio of services across key practice areas and global industry recognition through industry awards and thought leadership initiatives – all combined – gave us a terrific year. There is no greater highlight then having our largest clients continue to ask us to expand our scope with them, and 2010 was a year where we saw that consistently with our top 40 clients, across all practices.
Tell us about one account for which your agency is producing creative and effective digital work
Weber Shandwick is the lead digital agency for PepsiCo’s corporate initiatives, working across a number of brands, including Pepsi. For Pepsi, the firm spearheaded online engagement and local outreach for the widely-heralded campaign, the Pepsi Refresh Project. The $20 million grants program was an immediate success and within the first eight months, there were over 40 million votes cast and 4 million registrations. In total, the Project garnered more than 2 billion earned-media impressions and counting. The program will be returning in 2011, in the U.S. and internationally, to inspire people and fund more good ideas.
What are the most effective ways of encouraging more collaborative working between global sister agencies?
We collaborate as a matter of course at our firm. It is really based on what the client needs, what the other firms can contribute and having respect among these individual firms to deliver the best work for clients.
What was your best decision over the past year?
To invest in our people.
What will successful global PR agencies be doing in 2011?
Continuing to take advantage of a fragmented media and marketing landscape to help clients sell more products, improve and protect their reputations, and help to engage in meaningful discussions with their key constituents. We have a real opportunity to differentiate ourselves from other marketing services offered by sister companies. Social media, engagement and our more traditional work all combine to position us for a great 2011.Back to top