Holmes Report 08 Mar 2012 // 12:00AM GMT
SAN FRANCISCO—WCG, the former WeissComm, has launched W2O Group. W2O will become the parent company of WCG and two new firms, Twist and W2O Ventures, which together will offer integrated communications, business, and technology solutions and the best teams to cliens in industries ranging from healthcare to consumer goods, entertainment, automotive, aviation and technology.
WCG, which began life as a healthcare specialist firm, has grown to become of the five largest independent public relations firms in North America and ended last year with fee income of around $48 million. Healthcare now accounts for about 80 percent of the firm’s business.
Founder, chairman and CEO Jim Weiss attributes that success in part to the fact that “we have been able to evolve and keep pace with the rapid changes in the marketing, media and communications industries, and says the new organization continues that “by allowing us to remain nimble, adaptable and responsive in smaller organizations while offering the best teams and solutions across the network, all still managed under one P&L.”
Weiss is at pains to emphasize that the new structure is not just about managing conflict, emphasizing the new opportunities for senior staff. “It also gives our talent more diverse career opportunities and the entrepreneurial culture and running room they tend to thrive in best.”
Industry veteran Bob Pearson (pictured), who has held senior roles at GCI Group, Novartis and Dell and was formerly WCG’s chief media and technology officer, has been appointed president of W2O Group, reporting to Weiss.
One area of focus will be developing and utilizing customized and proprietary analytics. Says Pearson, “Done right, analytics not only lead to insights but allow communications and business executives to pinpoint specific solutions rather than chase symptoms.”
WCG will continue to operate as an independent communications consulting firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, Los Angeles and London.
Twist will have an “agile and entrepreneurial focus” on marketing communications across multiple sectors, with a “novel staffing approach.” The 45-person firm will be led by Jennifer Gottlieb, a veteran of healthcare positions at Cohn & Wolfe and Makovsky & Company who had previously served as leader of WCG’s biopharma practice.
W2O Ventures is described as an “incubational arm” of W2O Group and will create “transformational partnerships based on new technologies, strategies and ideas that create sustainable competitive advantage.” It will make investments in partner companies as well as developing new products from scratch. Some of the firm’s current and future ventures focus on local search and analytics, online video, engagement platforms, mobility and augmented reality. It will be led by Paulo Simas, WCG’s chief creative officer.