Weber Shandwick's CEO lays out how the world's second biggest PR firm is rebounding after steep revenue cuts

  • Weber Shandwick had steep revenue losses earlier this year, but the IPG-owned public relations agency is plotting a comeback.
  • CEO Gail Heimann told Business Insider the second-largest PR agency is focusing on areas like management consultancy, digital media, and data analytics.
  • It's also seeing business come back, recently winning accounts like the Centers for Disease Control and Tata Trusts.
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Weber Shandwick, the world's second-largest public relations firm, is starting to see business return after steep revenue losses during the pandemic.

It's recently won work from clients including the Centers for Disease Control, Tata Trusts, Shatter Proof, and Micron with fellow IPG agency Golin, CEO Gail Heimann said.

Weber Shandwick is also diversifying its revenue through growing areas like its management consultancy United Minds, digital media agency Flipside, and data analytics division Global Intelligence.

Management consultancies have been encroaching on marketing and advertising. In 2019, for example, Accenture acquired creative agency Droga5.

In response to this trend, Weber Shandwick in 2018 built United Minds, which lets it sell more services to existing clients.

Read more: The PR industry got hammered by the pandemic. CEOs of the largest firms say they feel optimistic for the first time this year.

Heimann said United Minds has consulted with 100 clients on coronavirus-related issues and done diversity and inclusion consulting for 135 clients over the past six months or so.

Weber Shandwick has also had more demand for its digital products and data services.

Its digital agency Flipside has created new products and services, like apps and Conference+, which clients use to host virtual meetings. Forty clients have used Conference+ in four months, including smartphone company OPPO, which hosted an online press conference in May, yielding more than 230 reviews of its devices.

On the data front, Weber Shandwick also is seeing revenue growth from Global Intelligence, a service it launched in January whose artificial intelligence platform A-Hub analyzes what's being said about a particular topic, which the agency can use to counsel clients. It can also be used to build audience profiles to help clients develop products. Nearly 40% of Weber Shandwick's largest clients use A-Hub, and business development teams use this tech in more than half of its pitches.

Up next: Heimann said A-Hub was planning to branch out to languages besides English.

"We're pleased with how our teams are performing and the strength of our client relationships, and our business pipeline is becoming more robust as we close our fair share of opportunities," Heimann said. "The 'cautious optimism' cliche is now a reality."

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