Public Communications, Inc
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Holmes Report
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Public Communications, Inc

Holmes Report

Public Communications Inc. has been a fixture on the Chicago landscape for 40 years, and has survived and thrived for as long as it has by doing many things well. But there are several areas in which the firm’s capabilities are exceptional: the first is in the healthcare sector, accounting for about 60 percent of the business, where a team led by president and CEO Dorothy Pirovano (now 18 months into the job) and partner Ruth Mugalian does some good work with pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers but truly shines when it comes to representing medical associations, managing professional communications and public education campaigns; the second is in crisis management, particularly helping clients deal with the local Chicago media; and the third is in the conservation and environmental communications arena, led by partner Jill Allread, serving clients that include zoos, parks, and aquaria. The firm also expanded its work in the education area and continues to work with some of the largest institutions—museums, hospitals and non-profits—in its home city.


The firm is also distinguished by a strong client service culture. The importance of going the extra mile for clients is inculcated in every PCI employee from the principals to the account professionals to the support staff, and it manifests itself in 24-hour availability and an attitude that is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and pays off in client relationships that in many cases are 10, 20, even 30 years old.  The firm’s largest clients—the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Zimmer Orthopaedic, and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums—have all been with PCI for more than a decade.


PCI signed (and re-signed) the largest number of retainer accounts in the firm’s 44-year history in 2007, although fee income remained around the $4.7 million mark. Long-time clients such as the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America continue to work with PCI on a broad range of assignments, and there was new business from the American Board of Medical Specialties; ProCure Treatment Centers, a developer of proton therapy cancer treatment centers; CMR Institute, an independent, non-profit organization that provides certification and education for medical sales representatives and managers; and Fidelity Investments’ sponsorship relationship with the Chicago Cubs. In the education arena, the firm added new clients including Erikson Institute, International Education of Students and National-Louis University. While there were no senior level hires, PCI continued to strengthen its management team from within, and three vice presidents—Kathleen Boylan, Remi Gonzalez and Leigh Wagner—were promoted to senior vice president.


The firm continued to handle several high profile programs on behalf of Chicago cultural institutions such as the Museum of Science Industry and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. It conducted the 11th year of the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program, one of the firm’s longest-running client programs, which began as a one city pilot in 1996 and has grown to a national program conducted in hundreds of communities. And PCI also launched the national “Party for the Planet” program for the Associations of Zoos & Aquariums, and the “No Child Left Inside” initiative for Chicago Wilderness and its 225 members.


Says longtime client Leslie Botos, vice president, public affairs, for BloodSource: “For more than 20 years, the team at PCI has been teaching and counseling me—and the BloodSource organization—with great skill, sensitivity and understanding of our particular challenges…  PCI is our trusted partner, providing strategic communications counsel to the executive management team and the board of trustees, as well issues management and media and presentation skills coaching. PCI can be depended on to listen carefully and counsel with honesty.  CEO Mike Fuller often says he turns to PCI because the people are smart, they listen and they tell him the truth, even if the truth is that he’s sometimes wrong. You just won’t find better.”


PCI is a founding partner of the Worldcom Group, an international organization of more than 110 independent public relations firms in 90 cities throughout the world, and has drawn on the network to provide support in Japan and the U.K. for Zimmer; in Italy and France for Bristol-Myers Squibb; and in Northern Ireland for the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland. 

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