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Under-Fire Hibu Eyes Multi-Market PR Counsel

EMEA, Global, North America

Hibu's Yell Mobile product

Arun Sudhaman 21 Nov 2012

READING, UK--Hibu, the debt-laden publisher of the Yellow Pages, is seeking public relations support in the UK and US.

The Holmes Report understands that firms have been briefed regarding a multi-market assignment that covers both countries.

In addition to the UK and US, Hibu is also active in Spain and Latin America, and there are some suggestions that the company may also extend the remit to cover these markets. 

Formerly known as Yell Group, Hibu rebranded in May of this year. Prior to that, the company announced a global review of its marketing requirements, which began with an advertising pitch that eventually saw Engine appointed. That decision reflects a desire to be known as a more global, digital company, in line with a rebranding effort that was carried out by Landor.

The PR review is thought to be the latest stage of this process, and comes as Hibu fights off threats of liquidation. Net debts currently stand at £2.2bn following an acquisition spree, with Hibu halting repayments to creditors as it awaits a restructuring.

Hibu has worked with numerous PR firms in recent years, including Man Bites Dog. In addition, RLM Finsbury handles corporate/financial duties, a relationship which will not be affected by this review.

Sources involved in the process said that the current brief is focused on B2B and consumer duties,  relating specifically to new products.

Hibu has been hit by the migration of advertisers and consumers away from its Yellow Pages listings to online directories. In line with this, the company is attempting to develop a digital platform for consumers and businesses, and has trialled a local 'emarketplace' in Oxford.

In September, Hibu promoted Laura Broderick to the role of global CMO, following the departure of Jenny Ashmore.

Once owned by BT Group, Yell was sold to private equity buyers in 2001, before listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2003.

Hibu director of public relations Jon Salmon declined to comment, other than to reiterate the group's announcement of its global marketing review earlier this year.

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