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FleishmanHillard (US)

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FleishmanHillard is one of the world's biggest public relations agencies, and the lead PR brand in Omnicom's portfolio, narrowly ahead of Ketchum by fee income. It was PRWeek's Large Agency of the Year in 2014, and PRovoke's Large Agency of the Year in North America, but otherwise has mostly been the bridesmaid rather than the bride in annual contests, a runner-up rather than the overall winner. That finally changed in 2021 when it was named Global Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media (as well as regional AotY for APAC). It is among the finalists for PRovoke's North America AotY. It derives the largest share of its business from the US market where it operates a network of 22 regional offices, but FleishmanHillard controls another 50 directly owned offices around the globe, offering every form of communications discipline, and covering all industries and specialised social groups. Most services are offered under the main corporate brand, but the group also manages a small portfolio of separately branded niche units including public affairs specialist DDC, social affairs unit GMMB, strategic comms agency Vox Global, digital agency Blue Current and content creator Specialist. The UK office merged in 2015 with fellow Omnicom unit Fishburn to form FleishmanHillard Fishburn. The business was originally founded in St Louis in 1946 by Al Fleishman and Bob Hillard, but only established a national and then global presence in the 1970s and 80s under John Graham, who led the agency for more than 30 years and oversaw its acquisition by Omnicom in 1997. He is still chairman. John Saunders was named president & CEO in late 2015, only the 4th leader in the agency's 70-year history. However performance has come under pressure since his appointment, with rumours of a greater focus on profitability over creativity and the departure of several managers. At the same time, Omnicom has grouped all its PR businesses under a new centralised entity within the parent group. In several European markets including France, Italy and Spain, the local office of FleishmanHillard was merged with Ketchum and Porter Novelli to operate as a single business under the Omnicom PR Group brand. Industry watcher PRovoke ranked FleishmanHillard as the global #4 in 2020 with estimated fee income of $615m. It was the only member of the Top Five to register an increase in estimated income.

Capsule checked 12th April 2022

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Mar 2017: The steady drip of consolidation throughout the global marketing services industry continues. Omnicom announced plans to merge its three global PR networks of FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli in France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. The three separate brands will be retained, at least for the time being, along with separate client liaison teams, but senior management and back office operations will be combined and the merged unit will work from a single combined office with a unified P&L under the overall banner of Omnicom PR Group, or OPRG. Leaders put an upbeat spin on the plan. "We are now going to have critical mass in a way we haven’t before," said FleishmanHillard global CEO John Saunders. "I think for everybody it gives expanded growth opportunities as well as potential career paths in businesses that will be significant bigger than they would have been in the past."

Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Apr 2016: The Holmes Report published its latest ranking of the world's leading PR agencies by fee income. Edelman easily retained the #1 position, albeit with a slightly reduced margin over second-placed Weber Shandwick, owned by Interpublic. Omnicom's FleishmanHillard and Ketchum held the #3 and #4 positions. WPP's Burson-Marsteller moved up to equal 5th alongside Publicis-owned MSLGroup. However the biggest change was a 37% increase in fee income for China's BlueFocus which jumped five places in the ranking to the #10 spot, unseating Havas PR. Among the holding companies, Omnicom slipped from first to third place by combined estimated fee income, behind Interpublic and WPP.

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