Latest HP PR Reshuffle Sees Burson Lose Out And Omnicom Benefit
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Latest HP PR Reshuffle Sees Burson Lose Out And Omnicom Benefit

HP's latest consolidation of PR activity will see it end its decade-long relationship with Burson-Marsteller in favour of Omnicom PR firms.

Holmes Report

PALO ALTO—HP is consolidating its public relations activity again, this time shifting all of its communications work to Omnicom, including global duties for its enterprise unit which Burson-Marsteller had handled for more than a decade.

Howard Clabo, SVP of global communications at HP, confirmed the company is consolidating all of its communications work with Omnicom by the year’s end.

The Omnicom team, led by Porter Novelli CEO Karen Van Bergen, also includes support from sister agencies FleishmanHillard and Ketchum. HP continues to work with Edelman and the W2O Group on digital briefs that are run out of its marketing division.

The loss of the HP remit deals a severe blow to Burson's tech practice, coming soon after SAP opted for an Omnicom holding group arrangement in favor of its existing WPP agencies. The Holmes Report recently reported that Burson’s US tech head Sabrina Guttman has departed the firm to become VP of strategic communications at HP, reporting into Clabo.

Burson's status as the key PR agency for HP's enterprise business included several years when the unit was known as the technology solutions group. Burson’s enterprise remit, believed to be worth as much as $20m at its peak, spans numerous markets across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Budgets, however, have been declining for a number of years as HP has overhauled its PR agency arrangements considerably, alongside a major restructuring of the company's operations. These moves have affected both external agency relationships and HP’s internal communications operation, with the company looking to implement an internal agency model structure — in line with broader industry trends.

“Over the last three years, we’ve done a lot of work to upgrade the internal talent and capability and it’s fair to say that a large portion of the work is being done internally,” Clabo told the Holmes Report. “We value our agency partners and have significant engagements with them through more strategic relationships.” 

The latest reshuffle solidifies HP’s relationship with Omnicom PR firms, a trend that has been underway for several years, at the expense of WPP and Edelman.

In 2012, the Holmes Report revealed that HP's product PR had been consolidated under Porter Novelli, in tandem with FleishmanHillard, although overall budgets have reduced because of HP's focus on specific geographic markets.

At the same time, HP's decision to move corporate PR duties to Edelman left Burson with the enterprise unit, which it retained after the streamlining of budgets and focus last year. That arrangement has now ended in favour of Omnicom PR firms, which take charge of enterprise and corporate PR duties, to accompany their existing product PR remit.

The reorganization of HP's PR duties has been underway since the arrival of CCO Henry Gomez and Clabo in 2012. HP CEO Meg Whitman is three years into a major effort to revive the company's flagging fortunes.

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