NEW YORK—Rowland Communications Worldwide, once one of the most powerful brands in international public relations, will get a new lease on life by partnering with sister agencies Manning Selvage & Lee and Publicis Consultants. All three firms are part of French communications holding company Publicis Groupe.
A realignment of Publicis PR operations will see the lion’s share of the Rowland business aligned with MS&L—the company’s lead public relations brand. President and chief executive Mark Weiss will continue to lead the Rowland operations, and will report to MS&L chairman and CEO Lou Capozzi.
The firm’s London office will become part of Publicis Consultants, and will be led by Eric Giuily, chief executive officer of Publicis Consultants.
There had been speculation about the future of Rowland since it was acquired by Publicis as part of Saatchi & Saatchi. Under Saatchi, the firm had declined from one of the top five in global public relations fees to a spot just outside the top 20.
There is continuing speculation about the future of Publicis Dialog, the other major Publicis Groupe PR brand. A consolidation of public relations brands would create a Publicis PR powerhouse that could rival the industry’s giants on a global scale—and Publicis Dialog is currently without a full-time CEO following the departure of Andy Hopson to Burson-Marsteller this summer.
There was some surprise that the Rowland brand survived this realignment, but Capozzi says the brand remains one of the best known in the business.
“Rowland has a very strong brand franchise,” he says. “We believe we can build on that strategy. It has a reputation for strategic thinking because of its proprietary Point of Entry communications process and for creative programming. But managing a public relations business is a distinct skill, and it’s something we know how to do. We think we can help Rowland’s leadership team restore it to its former glory.”
Rowland takes an integrated communications approach to supporting clients’ business goals and currently represents major multinational clients including Johnson & Johnson/Merck, Dupont de Nemours, McNeil Consumer Products, and Ortho Biotech. It has 17 offices in 13 countries, about about 350 employees globally.
“We have the opportunity to form strategic partnerships between resources that share common expertise, goals and offerings for clients,” said John Farrell, Publicis Groupe’s SAMS (Specialized Agencies and Marketing Services) president and chief executive officer. “We are committed to the growth and development of our public relations capabilities, and this is an important step in strengthening those capabilities and delivering the results our clients need.”
Says Weiss, “The alignment with MS&L provides the framework and resources to leverage the skills of our team and expand our client relationships. Through the support of the Groupe’s networks, our employees will enjoy increased opportunities, while our clients gain access to the strategic tools and processes offered by an expanded network of communications professionals.”