LONDON, May 1—Telecommunications equipment manufacturer Marconi has selected Hill & Knowlton to handle worldwide public relations following a six-month pitch process that eventually narrowed the field of competing agencies down to H&K and Broduer Worldwide. According to H&K president Paul Taaffe, who will lead the global account, Marconi’s challenge is “to build a global brand, at high speed.”

Marconi has other more immediate concerns, however. It recently announced 3,000 job losses worldwide and like competitors such as Lucent Technologies and France’s Alcatel, as a result of the downturn in its U.S. business. The company’s share price is languishing, which management sees as a reflection of skepticism about the entire sector.

“In the last two years, Marconi has completely transformed its business and the appointment of H&K is a key part of helping the global market understand the new vision for the company,” says Taaffe. “The challenge for Marconi is to build a global brand, at high speed, that explains the transformation it has achieved. This is the sort of communications challenge that H&K is optimized to deliver on—high level strategy based on deep sector understanding, enhanced by value added services and executed on a global scale.”

Sally Costerton, head of H&K’s U.K. technology practice will lead the account on a day-to-day basis, working closely with regional management teams in New York and Singapore. The contract is for two years, and H&K will target business and trade media and industry analysts and will handle employee communications on a worldwide basis. The firm will also provide government affairs and investor relations support in some regions.  

According to Jeffrey Brooks, Marconi’s chief marketing officer, “Of all the agencies we reviewed, only H&K was clearly positioned to support us across the board, in managing media relations, industry analyst relations and employee communications. It has an excellent strategic vision and deep expertise in our sector, which greatly impressed us.”
H&K’s internal communications practice is already working with Marconi senior management on unveiling the new corporate strategy to employees, and its technology practice worldwide is working on external communications. H&K’s Internet communications team is also working with Marconi to build a set of online knowledge management and communications tools that will work together to give Marconi a ‘corporate dashboard’ to underpin its global PR and marketing programs.