Gagen MacDonald
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Gagen MacDonald

If you’re looking for a big splashy press party with supermodels and celebrity spokespeople to introduce your next new product, Gagen MacDonald (the former Matha MacDonald, before the departure in midyear of founding partner Bob Matha) is not the firm for you.

Holmes Report

Strategic corporate and employee communications

If you’re looking for a big splashy press party with supermodels and celebrity spokespeople to introduce your next new product, Gagen MacDonald (the former Matha MacDonald, before the departure in midyear of founding partner Bob Matha) is not the firm for you. If you’re looking for strategic thinkers to analyze your supply chain, integrate planning functions, and help save the company millions of dollars, there’s no one better.

If that doesn’t sound like a traditional public relations function, it’s because Gagen MacDonald refuses to be bound by traditional definitions. Founded with a focus on employee engagement, the firm has gone way beyond the traditional newsletters and special events focus of PR firms that venture into the internal arena, developing a line of products and services that focus on using communications to help organizations turn strategies into bottom-line results. To do that, the firm delves deep into its clients’ DNA, examining the history of the company and at the experiences that shape employee perceptions, as well as the emotional triggers likely to drive them to action.

Consider the new products and services added in 2004. One focuses on information flow, building on its information analysis offering (which had its roots in the need to communicate on corporate governance issues) and delivering a process to address broader information flow issues. Another provides advice on creating diversity initiatives that impacts business results. The firm also added a leadership assessment and coaching capability. The firm also added senior counseling depth, entering into exclusive consulting arrangements with Judith Muhlberg, former senior vice president of communications and a member of the executive council at The Boeing Company, and Donna Reynolds, former vice president of communications of Inland Paperboard & Packaging.

Interesting assignments include the continued business transformation and turnaround at United Airlines, with projects ranging from operations improvements to corporate-wide initiatives and strategic internal communications; operations improvements across seven manufacturing sites in three countries for one client to improve first-time quality and reduce cost per unit; development of critical communication skills and a leadership platform for a business unit of a Fortune 500 company; redesign of a government and public affairs function with approximately 100 positions, including structure, job descriptions and processes; and creation of a new communications function from the ground up, including a company-wide communications audit, development of the first message platform and improvement of existing communications infrastructure.

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