SOUTHLAKE, TX, July 3—In a career that has included senior corporate communications positions at Pratt & Whitney, Sprint, and most recently Nokia, James Bowman has seen his share of client-agency relationships go bad. And so now that he has left the Finnish telecommunications company to start his own consulting business, he plans to play marriage guidance counselor to companies that see value in trying to save those relationships.
“It’s often very expensive to replace an agency, particularly if the agency has been with a client for a number of years,” says Bowman, who as vice president for corporate communications at Nokia sat on the client advisory board of the Council of Public Relations Firms. “The agency may have been with the company longer than the in-house PR staff. Sometimes ending the relationship is not the right move. Sometimes the issues are not as big as they appear to be and it’s worth investing the time and energy to work them out.”
Bowman has some experience on the agency side of the business, having worked with David Meeker & Associates in Ohio, a firm that was acquired by Edward Howard & Co. He has worked with Meeker and Edward Howard senior counselor Davis Young on client-agency relationship issues and may do so again.
He also plans to provide strategic communications counsel.
Bowman was responsible for building the corporate communications function for Nokia in the U.S. When he arrived at the company in 1998, it had a PR staff of three; today the function includes about 20 people and boasts a seven-figure budget, working extensively with outside agency Ketchum.
Following Bowman’s departure, the senior public relations position was awarded to director of corporate communications Megan Matthews, a nine year veteran of the company and an individual Bowman describes as one of the industry “bright young stars.” Matthews has had her hands full. The company has announced significant layoffs in recent months after cutting its earnings and revenue estimates for 2001.