The invasion of Ukraine, rising interest rates, tumbling stock prices, US/China tensions, an endless flow of refugees at America’s southern border and a lingering pandemic combined to make 2022 a year to forget.
The year started off with hopes that COVID-19 would soon be under control and ended with growing fears of a “tripledemic.”
As 2022 winds to a close, PR firms are planning for a possible recession in 2023.
Here are some of the PR highlights of 2022.
Andy Polansky, CEO of IPG DXTRA and executive chairman of Weber Shandwick, announces his plan to retire, wrapping up a nearly 40-year career in marketing communications. "I wanted to leave while there is still a lot of gas in the tank," Polansky, who recently turned 60, told O'Dwyer's.
Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide president, resigns due to a “consensual relationship with a colleague,” That colleague was Allison Gollust, CMO for CNN.
Declan Kelly, Teneo co-founder/CEO who resigned in 2021 after he became inebriated at a Global Citizen event and engaged in inappropriate behavior, reemerges. He launched Consello, a Madison Avenue advisory focused on merchant banking, corporate development, and mergers and acquisitions.
BGR Government Affairs cut its relationship with Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind construction of a pipeline between Germany and Russia, after President Biden sanctioned it on Feb. 23 following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Everett Eissenstat, who was senior VP for global public policy at General Motors, joins Edelman Global Advisory as North America chair and global trade lead. He will help clients navigate government policies and geopolitical dynamics to achieve their business objectives. At GM, Eissenstat reported to CEO Mary Barra.
Ronn Torossian steps down as CEO of 5W Public Relations after various reports that he secretly owned a news site and used it to hammer competitive firms. “I have become a distraction and the team deserves the freedom to operate in a context free of noise—noise I personally created,” he wrote in an internal memo acquired by O’Dwyer’s. Torossian will serve as chairman of the New York-based firm that he founded in 2002.
WPP pulls out of Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. The ad/PR holding company, which has nearly 1,400 people in Russia, thanked them for their service to clients. It promised to work closely with clients during the winddown of operations.
Americans largely believe the tech industry has had a positive impact on their lives, but they also distrust social media companies, according to a poll from insights and analytics company Ipsos. The report found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of U.S. adults believe the tech industry positively affects their lives, while only 45 percent said they trust these social media platforms.
US prosecutors have charged Elena Branson, who chaired the New York-based Russian Community Council of the USA, with acting and conspiring to be an agent of the Russian government and willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. She also is charged with conspiring to commit visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI. The 61-year-old Branson is a dual US/Russian citizen.
Trust plays a major role in consumer decisions about vaccine compliance and preventive care, according to a study from Edelman. The study also found that the level of confidence in the healthcare system took a hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Edelman’s “Trust Barometer Special Report on Health” found that more than half (52 percent) of respondents said that the pandemic had lowered their confidence level in healthcare.
Congressman Don Beyer introduces a bill to support online literacy and educate Americans on how to spot disinformation and misinformation. The Educating Against Misinformation and Disinformation Act is inspired by a program in Finland that teaches students from K-12 to identify propaganda from neighboring Russia.
The World Trade Center Health Program, which was established after the 9/11 terror attacks, issues an RFP for outreach and education services aimed at underrepresented populations of survivors and responders who may not be aware of the benefits they are entitled to. An estimated 400K people in NYC were impacted by the dust cloud caused by the collapse of the WTC.
The number of journalists who see CEOs and company PR professionals as credible sources has dropped in the past year, according to a survey from Muck Rack. While 84 percent of respondents said CEOs were credible sources for their reporting in 2021, that number slid to 66 percent tin 2022. Company PR pros also saw a decline from 55 percent to 50 percent in the latest survey.
ExxonMobil hires Matt Furman as VP-public and government affairs. He replaces Suzanne McCarron, who is retiring after a 24-year run. Furman joins the energy giant from BestBuy, where he had been chief communications and public affairs officer since 2012
|Kathy Bloomgarden, Steve Cody|
Ruder Finn acquires Peppercomm, a firm that reported $9.2M in 2021 fee income for the 58th slot on O’Dwyer’s rankings of PR firms. Peppercomm’s 29 employees in New York, San Francisco and London handle accounts such as Dole Sunshine Co., MINI Cooper, Xero and trivago. The firm, which is led by Steve Cody, is noted for its “Change Agent” humor-led training programs.
BCW names Mary Corcoran president, North America, effective May 1. She joins BCW from Real Chemistry, where she ran the Twist operating company and served as RC’s chief client officer.
Kristina Schake, who was Joe Biden’s COVID-19 PR chief, joins Walt Disney Co. as executive VP-global communications after wrapping up a 10-month stint as the Biden administration’s COVID-19 public education campaign director. She took that post after serving as communications specialist for Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
WPP’s BCW, H+K Strategies, VMLY&R, Group W and Kinetic donate creative and advertising space for New York mayor Eric Adams’ move to run digital billboards in Florida to denounce the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Publicis Groupe’s Arthur Sadoun says Q1 revenues jumped 17.1 percent to $3B, driven by a robust demand for its Publicis Sapient and Epsilon digital offerings. Organic growth rose 10.5 percent compared to a 2.8 percent year-ago increase.
Seth Faison, who did a five-year stint as managing director of Sitrick And Company’s New York office, joins Brunswick Group as partner in its freshly minted China hub. Prior to working at Mike Sitrick’s Los Angeles-based crisis shop, Faison headed the New York Times’s Shanghai bureau and served as Beijing correspondent for the South China Morning Post.
Omnicom CEO John Wren reported a 0.5 percent dip in Q1 2022 revenues to $3.4B and a 24.2 percent decline in operating profit to $353M. He cited the negative impact of foreign currency translations and drop in acquisition revenue, net of disposition revenues for the lackluster performance.
Finn Partners inks $1.3M six-month contract with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs for the United Arab Emirates to develop a communications strategy designed to bolster the image of the Gulf State.
Tony Podesta works to assure the Biden administration, Congress and the US media that the Government of Libya is committed to conducting free and fair elections. Libya’s first presidential election was scheduled for Dec. 24, 2021, but failed to take place as rival factions could not agree on the political framework required to conduct the vote.
WPP reports 8.1 percent Q1 growth to $3.2B in like-for-like revenues due to strong demand for its digital media, e-commerce, data and marketing technology offerings. CEO Mark Read boosted overall 2022 guidance from five percent to 5.5 percent to the 6.5 percent level due to the strong start of the year and continued momentum.
Russell Dubner, who exited as Edelman vice chairman in December 2021 after a 28-year run at the firm, joins the Boston Consulting Group as senior partner/global communications.
Ruder Finn acquires Comunicad LLC, an Arlington, VA-based multicultural shop that has served clients such as Ford, Verizon, Telemundo, American Airlines, Freddie Mac, PepsiCo, AARP and Molson Coors.
Karine Jean-Pierre succeeds Jen Psaki as White House press secretary on May 13 to become the first Black and openly gay person to hold that position.
New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed steps down from Congress and joins BCW’s Prime Policy Group government relations shop as vice chairman. Reed announced his decision to quit seven months before the end of his term from the floor of the House.
Huntsworth Communications, which includes Grayling, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Red and Cirkle, rebrands as Accordience.
BGR Group agrees to a $2.1M contract to represent the Muslim World League, which calls itself the global voice on moderate Islam. Saudi Arabia is a leading contributor to the MWL, which is based in the kingdom.
Embattled Wells Fargo has named Amy Bonitatibus CCO and brand officer She reports to vice chairman Bill Daley and handles duties once held by former Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty, who was hired in June 2020.
Edelman signs a one-year $800K contract to provide PR services to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture, which plans a crucial role in delivering on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” transformation program.
Moderna awards its global corporate PR duties to DXTRA Health, a collective of more than 1,500 staffers housed within Interpublic shops. A cross-disciplined group from Weber Shandwick, Golin and Jack Health will work to bolster the corporate reputation of the COVID-19 vaccine maker and spotlight its research savvy. Moderna had used FTI Consulting and Ruder Finn for PR.
Longacre Square Partners handles communications for the reorganization of Revlon, which filed for Chapter 11 in US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Brian Bartlett, who served in George W. Bush’s White House and co-founded the Rational 360 shop, joins Kekst CNC to open its Washington office.
The Justice Dept. opens probe of Digital World Acquisition Corp., the blank check company that plans to take Donald Trump’s social media platform public. The Securities and Exchange also is investigating DWAC.
Julie Hamp, who resigned her position as chief communications officer of Toyota in 2015 after being arrested in Japan on suspicion of drug charges, returns to the automaker.
Matt McKenna, who was spokesperson for president Bill Clinton, signs on at The Levinson Group as a senior advisor.
Finn Partners adds SPAG, an 85-member healthcare shop that has offices throughout Asia.
Interpublic’s Q2 net revenues grew 4.7 percent to $2.4B as CEO Philippe Krakowsky reports gains across all regions, client sectors and operating units.
Ridgely Walsh, which was founded by the well-connected DC Republican PA consultant Juleanna Glover, provides PR and media work for Ukraine on a volunteer basis.
FTI Consulting’s PR group registers 6.2 percent Q2 growth as its reputation, crisis, cyber and litigation segments post solid performances.
WPP chief Mark Read says its 8.7 percent 1H growth was driven in part by a resurgence in demand for strategic communications at its H+K Strategies, BCW and Ogilvy units.
BerlinRosen acquires a majority stake in Derris, a brand consultancy that has launched direct-to-consumer brands such as Warby Parker and Everlane. It has 65 staffers in New York and 10 in London.
The International Rescue Committee kicks off a search for a PR firm to publicize the plight of Ukrainian refugees.
McDonald’s names Jon Banner EVP and global chief impact officer. He joins from PepsiCo, where he was EVP-communications, and president of the soft drink company’s foundation.
WPP’s GroupM Worldwide handles Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy’s “Advantage Ukraine” campaign to promote confidence among businesses, investors and policymakers that the battered country will recover from Russia’s invasion.
Finn Partners acquires Rachel Kay Public Relations, a 19-person shop based in San Diego that focuses on the food and beverage category.
Hill+Knowlton Strategies names Brenna Terry global chair of healthcare. She was most recently senior director of enterprise engagement and communication at Janssen North America, which is part of Johnson & Johnson.
WPP scoops up Miami-based JefferyGroup, which has more than 330 staffers and an extensive network in Latin America.
The Securities and Exchange Commission files charges against Kim Kardashian for promoting a crypto asset security on her Instagram without disclosing that she was paid $250K to do so.
MMGY Global makes a move on Wagstaff Media and Marketing, a firm that specializes in the travel, culinary and hospitality lifestyle sectors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics begins a hunt for a PR firm to counter disinformation and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sean McCormick, who was VP-communications at Boeing, joins Chevron with the same title. Most recently, McCormick was at Trailrunner International.
Ruder Finn scores Touchdown, a 65-member technology PR shop headquartered in Austin with offices in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia.
Justin Goodman, communications director for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joins SKDK as an EVP in its Washington public affairs practice.
LGBTQ+ representation in communications is getting better, but many brands are still lagging when it comes to making a year-round commitment, according to a report from WPP Unite.
FGS Global handles the initial public offering of Luberef, the oil refining unit of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company.
BPCM signs three-year deal to represent Volkswagen Group of America as the German automaker makes an aggressive push to market its line-up of electric vehicles. Edelman had the account.
The State Dept. appoints James Rubin coordinator of the Global Engagement Center, which is to lead Washington’s effort to recognize, understand, expose and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation that threatens US security.