Holmes Report 01 Dec 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
The 2009 restructuring of Huntsworth Group’s various public relations holdings included the coming together of three international brands—Grayling, Mmd and Trimedia—under the Grayling name, creating a global operation with 900 employees in 70 offices in 40 locations around the world. The firm is a powerhouse in the EMEA region (both Trimedia and Grayling were headquartered in London, while Mmd operated the largest public relations and public affairs network in Eastern Europe) but has a significantly smaller presence in both the Asia-Pacific region and in North America.
The firm’s roots in the U.S. date back to 2002, when Huntsworth opened its first U.S. office with the acquisition of Thomson Financial, which was rebranded under the Global Consulting Group banner and sought to carve out a niche for itself at the nexus of corporate communications, financial communications, and public affairs. In 2005 the group made a second purchase, buying The Anne McBride Company, a boutique investor relations firm with an international client base. That firm’s eponymous founder is now chairman of the firm’s investor relations business, while longtime GCG employee Jacinta Gouda serves as chair of corporate communications.
At the end of last year, meanwhile, the firm acquired leading technology independent Atomic PR, rebranding itself as Grayling Atomic. San Francisco-based Atomic has grown over the past decade to become one of the largest independent technology public relations specialists in the U.S., and one of the best—earning it our Technology Agency of the Year award for 2009. It has enjoyed such consistent success in part because of a distinctive analytical approach to communications—its ComContext process, developed over six months before the firm took on any clients, is designed to provide agency teams with critical insights that fuel strategy, elevate creative thinking, and provide granular metrics on program performance—and a focus on helping clients cope during times of transformation: communicating a change in positioning, raising awareness, dealing with an IPO or acquisition. It’s an approach that Atomic says can deliver increases of 100 percent or more on a variety of qualitative and quantitative coverage metrics. Atomic had another strong 12 months leading into this Report Card, winning Sony Electronics’ US PR account, relaunching Polaroid, and adding new business from Pioneer, Citrix Online, Netgear, EyeFi and DropBox.
Grayling’s public affairs operations, meanwhile, operate under their own brands. California-based Rose & Kindel was another 2005 acquisition, and continues to operate under the leadership of principals Fred Muir in Los Angeles and Carl London in Sacramento. In 2009, Huntsworth acquired Washington, DC-based Dutko Worldwide—a lobbying powerhouse with 10 offices throughout the US and in Europe. While Dutko will continue to operate under its own brand and under the leadership of chief executive Mark Irion, it will be aligned with Grayling, creating a $50 million public affairs and government relations operation that ranks among the largest in the U.S. Even with the Dutko acquisition, however, Grayling’s North American operations remain more narrowly focused than Grayling in Europe, which offers broad capabilities in consumer public relations, healthcare, and public sector work in addition to corporate, financial and public affairs expertise.—AS