DALLAS—Fleishman-Hillard is spinning off part of its Dallas office to create a new boutique public relations firm, BlueCurrent, that will offer a creative approach to marketing communications and brand-building. The firm will be headed by Larry Melter and Robert Martin, whose Dallas-based agency Meltzer & Martin was acquired by F-H five years ago.
According to Fleishman-Hillard chairman John Graham, the new firm was created to serve clients who prefer a boutique approach to public relations. “There is a type of client that is more comfortable working with a boutique agency,” says Graham. “We wanted to be able to offer them an alternative, to be able to compete for that kind of business.”
Adds Martin, “Some clients feel big agencies are just not as creative as boutiques. We know from our experience at Fleishman-Hillard that that’s not true, but it’s clearly a perception.” The new firm will have a staff of 12 at launch, and clients including Lennox Industries and Hibernia Bank, both formerly clients of F-H in Dallas.
Graham says he does not expect BlueCurrent to compete with F-H for business, and the new firm will be able to draw on Fleishman’s resources as needed. But he says it could be used to handle conflicts, a growing problem for all the large agencies. He also says the firm could expand quickly, adding offices in other markets where Fleishman currently has a presence, including New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
“One advantage this gives us is that it creates new career opportunities for our people,” he says. “People who would like to work in a boutique environment will have the opportunity to do so.”
One challenge will be creating a boutique culture as part of a giant holding company (Omnicom) and what might be the world’s largest public relations firm.
Say Meltzer and Martin, “Our goal is to build an agency where creativity is center stage, yet where people are serious about the work and maintain a focus on results. We strive to be responsive to our clients and take responsibility for our actions. We go the extra mile and never give up. And we remain open to new ideas and different ways of doing things.” The firm will be built around three core values: discovery, insight, and innovation.
The firm will use its own proprietary creative process, the BlueCurrent Creative Navigator, that draws on the principles of discovery, insight and innovation to come up with creative ideas. Other products include Splashpoints, a portfolio of 12 idea-generating techniques developed by Meltzer and Martin and designed to foster greater creativity.
“The BlueCurrent brand is designed to evoke feelings associated with navigation through a complex world of products, reputations, and ideas,” says Graham, “while also demonstrating the insight and creativity that help build strong brands.”
BlueCurrent will report to Janise Murphy, Fleishman’s regional president based in Texas, who will continue to supervise the firm’s 40-person Dallas office.