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FleishmanHillard’s Alexandra Foutch named to PRWeek 40 Under 40 2019 list

July 29, 2019

ST. LOUIS, July 29, 2019 – FleishmanHillard‘s Alexandra Foutch has been named to this year’s PRWeek 40 Under 40 list. This award recognizes PR professionals whose forward-focused vision is helping to shape the future of the industry, all while being under the age of 40.

Foutch, senior vice president and senior partner, is a global leader and trusted counselor based in FleishmanHillard’s Detroit office. She leads the General Motors business for FleishmanHillard across the global network. Under her guidance, the General Motors client teams have won several awards, including coveted Cannes Lions. She is also an active board member for GearUp2Lead, a Flint, Michigan-based nonprofit that aims to educate and inspire students to develop the necessary skills to discover purpose and satisfaction in their lives.

Foutch will be honored at PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 ceremony in New York City on October 24, 2019. Read more about the honorees and the program here.

Alexandra Foutch, PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree


RP Week 2019: The Executive as a Communicator

July 25, 2019

When: Saturday, July 27, 2019, 9:15 a.m. BRT

Where: FECAP – Fundação Escola de Comércio Álvares Penteado, – 01502-001, Avenida da Liberdade, 532, Liberdade, São Paulo

Register now

RP Week is the largest PR-focused conference in Brazil. Now in its fifth year, the conference will focus on the role of communicators in the ever-evolving business world. Discussions will offer insights on the impact of communications and PR on business. Attendees will learn from industry leaders working in multiple industries and participate in roundtable discussions, workshops and agency tours. The conference will take place in São Paulo from July 24-July 28, 2019.

Carlos Graieb

Carlos Graieb, director of Public Affairs and Advocacy in FleishmanHillard’s São Paulo office, will discuss his experiences as a PR professional working at a global agency in “The Executive as a Communicator.”

Learn more about the RP Week sessions here.


The Power of You

July 24, 2019
By FH4Inclusion

Anyone who has been job hunting knows it is an incredibly challenging task – one made infinitely more difficult when there is a shortage of jobs available. South Africa has a high national unemployment rate at 27.6%, and youth unemployment in the country stands at an all-time high of 55.2%.

Unsurprisingly, being unemployed comes with heightened levels of stress. Some of the more apparent stressors are financially based – the loss of income, for example – but others are not so obvious. According to the New York Times, if someone is still job hunting after 10 to 12 weeks, their physical health suffers and they experience increased rates of depression. In some circles, this is referred to as ‘job-search depression’.

The competition is fierce, as the average job posting receives about 250 applications and the current average that it takes for companies to fill a post is about 42 days. The longer you go without employment, the tougher it is on your mental and emotional health, and the tougher it becomes, in turn, to find a job. It’s a vicious cycle. So how can you overcome these barriers?

Cue ‘The Power of You’. This personal branding workshop was by the team in FleishmanHillard’s South Africa office as part of FH4Inclusion to celebrate Mandela Day. Each year Mandela Day serves as an occasion for all to act, inspire change and make an impact on the world. In honor of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, we designed and delivered a programme for South African communications and public relations students who are beginning the search for their first full-time role. The trainings help up-and-coming professionals with job searches, providing them the best possible start.

Our team and students after a successful day of workshops.

Knowing how hard it can be to land a job and how demotivating it is to not receive feedback, especially in those first few months, we wanted to show young jobseekers that their story is the unique selling point they need to get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder. We take them through how to uncover and tell their unique story.

One of the big challenges with job searching is the effect it has on your self-esteem. In a lot of ways, job hunting is like searching for approval and it can be a big knock to the ego when you aren’t getting any positive feedback. Even though it may be hard, it is crucial to remain social, remain focused, network and learn new skills. It is important for young people on the job hunt to know who they are and the value they can bring to the workplace, especially in entry level positions. We help them understand their brand and how they can establish and promote themselves on social media and created eye-catching CVs with compelling cover letters. We also conduct mock interviews to give them some much-needed practice.

General Manager Sharon Piehl trains a group of students during a Power of You workshop

For this programme, our overall goal is to support 100 young jobseekers in the Communications and Public Relations field by the end of 2020. To date, 26 students have gone through the programme with an additional 30 students to come in the rest of 2019.

The Power of You is our South Africa office’s small way of using our unique set of skills to propel the next generation of consultants forward by harnessing the power of their own unique stories to jumpstart their careers.

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Angela Maciel is a member of the talent development team in the South Africa office. She is responsible for recruitment and helps lead the office’s diversity and inclusion and training programs.


Forward We Have Gone

July 18, 2019

Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot, spent 21 and a half hours alone in space – watching, waiting and trusting that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would safely complete the first manned landing on the moon. He believed the hard work of the men and women on earth would ensure their success – and he was right. They succeeded thanks to technological advances humanity had never known before. Traveling back to earth with his fellow astronauts, Collins remarked that “it is most important that we be going forward.”

While it’s safe to say Collins was just hoping they were headed in the right direction home…humanity has steadily progressed forward, with technology innovation from both the 20th and 21st centuries guiding us along the journey.

There is a lot of discussion around trust and technology today. The so-called ‘techlash’ has emerged because some feel that a few of the most innovative companies have gotten too big, too powerful and too unmanageable. However, they have reached this point because people crave the innovation they provide. We trust them with our data because we know that without this trust there would be no innovation – no forward movement.

On July 20, we will celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first taking their “giant leap for mankind.” And in the past five decades, we have made leap after leap – creating a world few could have previously imagined.

As I write this post (on my wireless keyboard), I briefly peek at breaking news and Instagram alerts on my mobile phone, comforted in the knowledge that my document is constantly autosaving. It goes without saying that the technology industry has evolved over the past 50 years—making our lives simultaneously easier and more complex. While they may pick on their parents and grandparents for not knowing how to add an attachment to an email, the Millennials and Gen Z’ers out there that cannot imagine a world without Snapchat, streaming video or Wi-Fi should note that these modern conveniences were things of science fiction when their parents were their age.

Eight years before the moon landing, in 1961, sitting president John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending an American safely to the moon before the end of the decade. As a result, NASA engineers and the best and brightest academic minds of the time set forth on a journey that would rapidly accelerate the pace of technology development. The intense, exhaustive research and development that powered all the Apollo missions, including Apollo 11, launched humanity in the direction it has gone since, paving the way for the hyper-connected, technology-dependent world we live in today.

Many – if not all – of the technology we use today can track their roots in some way to Apollo and the related research and innovation conducted by NASA scientists and engineers at the time. In fact, despite the speed of change and adoption we face today, the changes we experienced 50 years ago remain unprecedented – and forever life-altering. The emergence of categories like consumer electronics and enterprise computing systems point directly to this moment in time. Companies like Intel, Boeing and IBM grew, at least in part, because of the space program.

We can sometimes take the wealth technology products and services we use every day for granted. And it’s easy to point a finger and take aim at companies for misusing our data or influencing government policy, but we are responsible for their growth and power. Our insatiable hunger to get to the moon 50 years ago had a profound, everlasting impact on our world. We have adapted and evolved, welcoming new technology into our homes, cars and businesses.

And we will continue to trust and evolve, despite our occasional concerns and demands for regulation, because that is human nature. As Michael Collins said, it’s “amazing how quickly you adapt – why, it doesn’t seem weird at all to me to look out there and see the moon going by, you know?”

Interested in learning how technology companies can make an impact in an age of increased techlash? Find out how in our latest technology report, “From Darlings to Damaged.” 


The Emoji That Brings Us Together, Keeps Us Together ?

July 17, 2019

It’s easy to dismiss the sophistication of the emoji. 

Emojis are firmly embedded in our digital language and even show up IRL in Halloween costumes. As communications professionals, we should be in awe of something that crosses cultures, mediums and language with ease. So on this World Emoji Day, let’s step back and consider the emoji in its proper context as an international ? builder.

But first, a bit of history. As most of our cultural trends here in the states, emojis were birthed in Japan and originally came in the form of an emoji-only keyboard, only available to Apple users in Japan. Only after iPhone users in the US downloaded the Japanese keyboard en mass did Apple make it an international standard. In 2010, emojis were finally adopted into the international coding standard called Unicode and universally available on both Apple and Android operating systems. 

Today the process for proposing an emoji is simple and accessible to anyone. Unicode Consortium, a non-profit international organization responsible for making sure people around the world can use a computer in any language, approves every new emoji. Anyone can submit a proposal to the consortium—yes, even you— with a bit of rationale for why it should be added. For example, Courtney Milan is a historical romance author and is responsible for our ? emoji. She documented the approval process and her rationale was as follows: (Emphasis added for dramatic effect!)

“The current selection of emoji animals is missing a vital portion of natural species. While there are alligators, koalas, mice, snakes, whales and dragons, utterly missing from the emoji pantheon are any extinct creatures. Specifically, none of the prehistoric dinosaurs that have captured the human imagination and become a part of our global culture are present. This proposal details a set of Jurassic emojis to fix this situation once and for all.”

But not to be outdone, brands, celebrities, and organizations are a regular contributor to the emoji submissions. Kit Kat proposed that a breaking candy be added, Tony Hawk helped the consortium design a more accurate board and Google asked for more professional emojis to be added to help reduce gender restrictions. 

This year 230 new emojis are being added to the list, and while there are many simple new additions like the flamingo, the theme for the year is clearly representation and inclusiveness. 

While new emojis offer new opportunities for brands to speak to universally relevant topics of inclusiveness, it’s important to always keep the tone in mind. The best examples from brands are when there’s a natural fit and the use of the emoji doesn’t feel forced. Emojis are fine for most light and playful posts. We wouldn’t advise brands to use emojis for complex or solemn topics as it might come across as inappropriate and tone-deaf.

Emojis are important because, in a world where we are increasingly aware of what divides us, they remind us of the experiences we share. They remind us of things that we know so inherently that we can look at a picture and know what is being communicated no matter where you live. 

To celebrate this year’s World Emoji Day, let’s all join together to think of communication in more universal terms and appreciate the emoji for what it is. The world’s first universal language. 

Our most basic common ? is that we all ? ➡️ ?. We all ? the same ?. We all ❤️ our ? future. And we are all ?

– John F. Kennedy


FleishmanHillard Builds on the Foundations of Music

July 16, 2019
By FH4Inclusion

When we started at FleishmanHillard’s Chicago office in 2016 after graduating from college, we both wanted to find ways to become involved with office committees and outside organizations to contribute to our new community. When our supervisors provided an opportunity to work on FleishmanHillard Chicago’s pro-bono, FH4Inclusion client, Foundations of Music (FoM), we were more than happy to jump in and help.

Foundations of Music is a licensed Illinois 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the leader in providing fundamental music education during the school day. For 30 years, the nonprofit has used music to strengthen Chicago communities by partnering with Chicago Public Schools in the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. FoM’s music curriculum aims to spark creativity and passion, teach critical thinking, support academic achievement and – most importantly – enrich young lives. Recent studies show that there is a direct link between music education and better math scores, computer skills, language learning, cognitive growth, emotional well-being and a positive self-image.

The organization works with professional musicians to develop and implement lesson plans that are inspired by a curriculum map which meets national arts learning standards. Programs include General Music Class, Songwriting/Production Class and other performance opportunities. During the 2017-2018 school year, Foundations of Music served more than 5,000 students at almost 40 Chicago Public Schools.

Given our love for music and passion for education for all, this project was a perfect fit.

While the organization is present at a lot of schools in the Chicago area, its visibility in the community needed a boost. FleishmanHillard was tasked with promoting fundraisers and creating content that would get the word out about all the great work this organization does and get others in Chicago, who also share this passion for music education, involved.

FleishmanHillard’s FoM team attending the organization’s annual fundraiser in 2017.

Since beginning our work with FoM more than five years ago, the team has supported the organization through leadership shifts, change in headquarters, re-brands of fundraising events and an updated logo, all to better match the organization’s forward trajectory and reach a younger audience with a passion for music. The team also worked with local businesses like Girl and the Goat and Goose Island Brewery to further connect FoM with the Chicago community. From Pitchfork (a local music festival) to the foundation’s annual fundraising event, team members of FleishmanHillard’s Chicago office not only promoted but also attended and volunteered at these events to make sure they ran without a glitch.

FoM and FleishmanHillard team promoting the organization to tenants in the Aon Center.

Through many iterations and changes, we’re now assisting the organization with a merger with another education-focused nonprofit in the city. This merger will allow both organizations to reach even more students, while also providing new areas of education beyond music—including art, cultural and literacy programs.

We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with FoM and witnessing how the organization will continue to support the children at Chicago Public Schools who would not receive these education programs without them. The organization is excited to expand its work and presence, and we’re excited to contribute our public relations expertise to spread the word about the important mission to better our city and enrich the lives of its inhabitants.

Meg Patrick (left) and Genna Pirrong (right) with FoM Executive Director, Brenda Fineberg (center) at FoM’s annual fundraiser in 2019.

Click here to hear one of the student group’s amazing songs created through programs put on by Foundations of Music!

Meg Patrick supports the Brand Marketing team and Genna Pirrong works with our Corporate Reputation team in FleishmanHillard’s Chicago office.


The State of Tennis: A View from the U.K.

July 15, 2019

Wimbledon is a sporting occasion steeped in history. It is the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in existence and has immortalised players, iconic matches and even song lyrics. On the surface (if you’ll pardon the pun), its quaint, quintessentially British traditions of Pimms-sipping, of strawberries & cream and of very long queues present appetite-whetting opportunities for brands and organisers alike. So too does the strong imagery with which the tournament is associated: the immaculate lawns, the all-white dress code and the sweeping shots of a packed Murray Mound are all purpose-built – in an authentically unintentional way – for effective campaigns.

But over the last few years, a feeling that the tournament has begun to lose its sparkle on and off the court has become unavoidable. Addressing the tennis first, the men and women’s games are struggling, but for polar-opposite reasons. While the reign of the Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic triumvirate has rendered the men’s draw repetitive to the point of boredom, the seemingly utterly random nature of the women’s has come at the price of a­­ny major rivalries being forged nor narratives, told.

Off the court, it looks to be a similar story. Brands’ regular use of UK tennis traditions and – dare we say – clichés have numbed consumers to just how special the tournament is. That said, both brands and organisers who can see this problem emerging, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is because many attempts to modernise this darling of sporting occasions and move away from its ‘roots’ can appear contrived and forced.

One also has to entertain the idea that Wimbledon could simply be being out-gunned. Last summer saw an England football side capture the nation’s imagination, and – unfortunately for the big-wigs at AELTC – in doing so, drew the gaze both of brands and Brits for the vast majority of last year’s championships. Similarly, this year the women’s World Cup dominated back pages for Wimbledon’s first week – and that is despite the fairy-tales that were Coco Gauff and ‘MurRena’. Andy Murray returning to the stage has been a glorious swansong for the British supporters, mostly his partnership with Serena Williams in the mixed doubles, but this is unlikely to be seen again.

Looking forward, this misfortune shows little sign of relenting. Fortunately for the organisers, next year’s Olympics will kick off, just after the men’s final on Sunday, but they will have Euro 2020 to contend with. Beyond that, 2022 will bring respite in the form of a winter Football World Cup, but the rise of women’s sport, mean that the previously considered ‘fallow years’, in which Wimbledon can draw the attention of more brands and supporters will be increasingly few and far between.

What, then, in this tricky situation, can be done to make the most of such a unique tournament, and which brands are best placed to do it?

With changes in society, and rule changes in the game, we have seen new sectors market themselves using Wimbledon in novel, and intriguing ways. Data and technology companies have become increasingly involved in the sport, whether through Hawkeye’s now-total assimilation into matches or the ever-increasing amount of data-driven analysis. This now natural connection between the sport, and the companies who provide that data has led to some refreshing, natural and authentic campaigns.

Sportswear brands – unsurprisingly – also play a big role every year. Rather counterintuitively, the draconian enforcement of Wimbledon’s all-whites rule, presents them with a great opportunity. Throughout the ages, players have opted to subvert or bend the traditional all-whites law, and recently We’ve seen sponsors collaborating with streetwear brands, players wearing football shirts, and colourful undergarments. The result is often the same (players get told to wear something different in the next round), but it never ceases to earn eyeballs and column inches.

As the covers are rolled onto Centre Court for the final time, Simona Halep and Djokovic have claimed their respective crowns, exactly how the tournament will retain its mojo remains up in the air. However, we have seen through a string of activity, that there are novel and exciting avenues which both brands and the tournament can pursue, and that life certainly exists in the truly unique tournament that is Wimbledon.

Chris Gratton, who leads our FleishmanHillard Fishburn Sports practice, also contributed to this piece.


FleishmanHillard Appoints Marjorie Benzkofer Chief Strategy Officer

July 9, 2019

ST. LOUIS, July 9, 2019 – FleishmanHillard today announced the appointment of Marjorie Benzkofer to Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). In this new role, she will focus on developing and executing the agency’s growth plan, shepherding the investment of resources and measuring the collective progress of the agency.

Marjorie Benzkofer

Benzkofer will be responsible for developing the overarching strategic plan for the agency, with specific focus on bringing growth strategies into its more than 80 offices around the world. She will guide the agency’s efforts to integrate the organization’s growth initiatives, convening the FleishmanHillard Cabinet, general managers, Finance and Talent Development departments and others into a coordinated planning framework, ensuring FleishmanHillard is the agency of choice for global clients and the industry’s best talent.

“Marjorie has the ability to connect and motivate teams, seeing across the global network and foreshadowing industry trends, which makes her perfectly suited to take on this new role for the agency,” said John Saunders, president and CEO, FleishmanHillard.

In addition to her role as CSO, Benzkofer will continue to lead the global Reputation Management capability for the agency. Under her leadership, the practice has developed sophisticated IP to deliver smarter, more sophisticated solutions for clients, including the agency’s reputation research insights methodology, The Authenticity Gap. In her more than 20-year career with FleishmanHillard, Benzkofer has led countless programs for a multitude of Fortune 500 clients across industries and geographies. Before joining FleishmanHillard, Benzkofer was a corporate spokeswoman for the companies that are now ComEd and Exelon in Chicago. She began her career as a print and broadcast reporter in Kansas City and later in suburban Chicago.

About FleishmanHillard
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named Agency of the Year at the 2017 and 2018 North American Excellence Awards; 2017 and 2018 ICCO Network of the Year for the Americas; 2019 PRWeek U.S. Outstanding Large Agency; 2019 Holmes Report North America Large Agency of the Year; 2018 Large Consultancy of the Year by PRWeek UK; PR News’ Best Places to Work in PR 2016-2018; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality for 2018 and 2019; PR Awards Asia 2017 Greater China Agency of the Year; and NAFE’s “Top Companies for Executive Women” for 2010-2019. The firm’s award-winning work is widely heralded, including at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, and has more than 80 offices in 30 countries, plus affiliates in 43 countries.​

About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,300 public relations professionals in more than 370 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and non-profits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.


FleishmanHillard’s John Saunders Named to PRWeek Power List 2019

July 1, 2019

ST. LOUIS, July 1, 2019 – John Saunders, FleishmanHillard president & CEO, has been named to this year’s PRWeek U.S. Power List for the fourth consecutive year.

John Saunders FleishmanHillard president and CEO
John Saunders, President and CEO

The publication recognized that Saunders’ leadership and strategy have led to significant new business wins for the global public relations firm and lauded Saunders for FleishmanHillard’s Outstanding Large Agency win at the PRWeek U.S. Awards in March.

The annual Power List recognizes influential individuals within the public relations and communications industry.