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Hill+Knowlton Strategies U.S. Transforms Digital Structure for a Post-Digital World

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Hill+Knowlton Strategies U.S. enters the fourth quarter having completed a full integration of its digital team into the firm’s U.S. offices and practices, and its digital content team, Group SJR, into the broader firm. The move reflects a belief that market sophistication has reached a point at which digital – rather than standing alone – needs to be part of a firm’s core offering.

“Agency ‘TV departments’ from the 50s became integrated as the medium transitioned from a specialty to a core storytelling channel, and we’re at that inflection point now in our industry with digital,” said Mike Coates, president and CEO of H+K Americas. “Our firm is transforming for a post-digital world, knowing that every individual in an agency needs to be digitally fluent.”

The integration follows a three-year period at H+K marked by key acquisitions, building up creative and digital expertise, and developing products that help unify the firm’s offering. The U.S. integration aligns the region more closely with H+K’s approach to modernizing digital around its global operation, which has been a priority focus of the firm’s global leadership since Jack Martin became the firm’s global chairman and CEO in 2011 and immediately brought in Andrew Bleeker as the firm’s global digital practice leader.

Since that time, Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ digital business globally has tripled, even before factoring in the firm’s three strategic digital acquisitions: Ascentum in Canada in 2012, Group SJR in the U.S. in 2013, and Rice5 in China in 2014. During that time the firm also has developed innovative products that unify the firm’s digital and non-digital offering, including Flight School, a comprehensive and immersive crisis simulation experience, and Influence Point, a new way to reach influencers via online advertising.

“We’re seeing client expectations make a dynamic shift in the digital space,” Bleeker said. “Where before they wanted specialized teams for public relations, one for the website and another to handle social media, today they expect integrated solutions, which this change provides.”

Members of the firm’s U.S. digital team have each either joined a practice or geographical office, where they will evangelize and implement digital strategy for clients, or joined Hill+Knowlton’s content team at Group SJR. For example, Allison Knaupe, longtime head of digital in Austin, has been promoted to Austin general manager, and Thom Blim, long-time SJR partner, will now serve as creative production director in the U.S., heading up H+K Studio. The distribution of digital talent allows Hill+Knowlton Strategies to more easily incorporate digital into all client engagements, and to more easily and quickly train other H+K staff on digital skills.

About Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is a leading international communications consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with 87 offices in 49 countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group. For more information, please visit www.hkstrategies.com.

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