Wednesday AM December 1st, 2010

The public relations firm Hill & Knowlton is merging with the Texas firm Public Strategies. The combined entities will have 83 offices and span 44 countries. Ed Mayberry reports.

The merger gives Hill & Knowlton access to the growing corporate communications world, which works to build trust through crisis management. Hill & Knowlton Chairman and CEO Paul Taafe says C-level executives are increasingly paying more attention to reputation management.

"They are one of the largest in Texas and one of the largest nationally doing public advocacy and major reputation research. They also have some very interesting capabilities and products that are very timely relative to large corporations all over the world, one of which is that they can measure accurately the reputation of a company and how that changes. That right now is very much in demand by large companies that are facing a whole host of regulatory and reputational risk."

Corporate communications is a growing area in public relations, as companies take crisis and reputation risk more seriously.

"Most chief executives continue to say regardless of the economy, access to really strong talent is one of the toughest things that they face. Increasingly — particularly millennial talent — will not join a corporation which has a mild reputation. So companies are taking very seriously the issue of reputation. You add that increasingly consumers — people — are less likely to buy products form a company that they think is not ethical or appropriate in how they treat their own people."

Taafe spoke to public relations professionals in Houston about looking at PR on a worldwide basis, focusing on two billion new consumers in emerging markets.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...