Hill & Knowlton Strategies, as it became in 2011, is the smaller of two major public relations networks in WPP's portfolio. It operates a network of 80 offices in 45 countries (including 20 offices in the US and Canada alone) and has exclusive affiliate arrangements with independent agencies in several more markets. In several countries, mostly so far in Asia, H&KS has merged operations with fellow WPP PR agencies Ogilvy and BCW to operate as a single combined business. The firm claims to be the most "transnational" of the major PR networks. It offers the full range of public relations disciplines from investor and employee communications and public affairs to crisis management, consumer PR, sports marketing and sponsorship and so on. Subsidiaries include content agency SJP and technology PR Blanc+Otus. The firm was originally launched in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1927 by former newspaper man John Hill. Donald Knowlton joined the firm as joint partner a couple of years later, and it was one of the first American PR agencies to establish a presence in Europe after World War II. The business was acquired by JWT shortly after Hill's death in 1977, and entered the WPP portfolio ten years later. It was merged in 2006 with public affairs agency Public Strategies, whose founder Jack Martin became group chairman & CEO of the combined business. The group suffered a difficult couple of years - WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell described it as "challenged" in 2014 and "less buoyant" than sister firm Burson-Marsteller in 2015, mainly as a result of tough trading in the US and China - before making a strong comeback in 2016. (Though recovery in the US took a little longer). Industry watcher The Holmes Report (now PRovoke) named H&K EMEA Agency of the Year for the first time in more than a decade that year; and then again for 2018, saying "H&K has managed to blend operational discipline, a more entrepreneurial attitude, and strong creative to become a well-rounded business, equally strong in corporate reputation management and brand-building work." It collected the award for the fourth time in five years in 2020, as well as being named EMEA Agency of the Decade. PRovoke estimated fee income of $360m in 2019. AnnaMaria DeSalva replaced Jack Martin as chairman & CEO in 2019.
Capsule checked 29th July 2020
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