Niehaus Ryan Wong Closes Two Offices: Others Announce Layoffs
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Niehaus Ryan Wong Closes Two Offices: Others Announce Layoffs

Tech specialist Niehaus Ryan Wong closed down its satellite offices in New York and Boston, Citigate pulled out of Miami, and The Financial Relations Board laid off 20 people in its Chicago headquarters.

Paul Holmes

SAN FRANCISCO, MIAMI and CHICAGO, August 3—More than half way through the year, it is becoming clear that the economic downturn is still wreaking havoc on public relations firms—and while the technology arena is bearing the brunt of the attack, other sectors are far from immune. This week’s bad news came from several directions as tech specialist Niehaus Ryan Wong closed down its satellite offices in New York and Boston, Citigate pulled out of Miami, and The Financial Relations Board laid off 20 people in its Chicago headquarters.
 
The cutbacks at Niehaus Ryan Wong were the most dramatic. The firm let 20 people go—on top of the 25 who were laid off in March—and closed both its satellite offices, consolidating operations in its San Francisco headquarters. According to founder and partner Bill Ryan, the firm expects to see revenues decline from $16 million last year to between $10 million and $12 million in 2001.
 
The cuts also seemed to spark an angry reaction from employees who were let go, one of whom sent a copy of the firm’s severance notice along with a copy of its values statement to this newsletter. The letter from director of human resources Dana Carstensen cited “external market conditions” and explained medical benefits and 401k issues. The firm’s values include honesty, accountability, courage, commitment, collaboration, and mastery.
 
Ryan says clients who were served by staff in New York and Boston will now be served from San Francisco, and that NRW will continue to serve clients on a national basis. Vice presidents in San Francisco were managing the two offices, and those executives will not lose their jobs, Ryan added. He says he is hopeful that no more cuts will be necessary.
 
Meanwhile, Citigate Dewe Rogerson is closing its south Florida office, one of parent company Incepta’s first acquisitions in the U.S. The office, once best known for its work in public affairs, had more recently been focusing on travel and tourism public relations—a sector far removed from Dewe Rogerson’s core investor relations business. Nine employees were laid off as a result of the decision.
 
The closure comes on the heels of several other moves in the Florida marketplace, including the closing of Hill & Knowlton’s Fort Lauderdale office—operations were transferred to Tampa—and cuts at Burson-Marsteller’s Miami office.
 
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported that The Financial Relations Board was one of two Interpublic companies making cuts in Chicago. The other was Draft Worldwide, a brand consulting firm. Layoffs had been expected across IPG as a result of its recent acquisition of True North and the consolidation of both advertising and PR operations.
 
Finally, Boston-based advertising agency Arnold Worldwide announced it was cutting 30 employees. It was not clear whether any of the jobs lost would be in the company’s public relations operations.
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