BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE!
4TH UPDATE — MONDAY 10:50 AM: What is being described to me as the biggest U.S. entertainment and lifestyle public relations and marketing company will be created on January 1st. This morning, PMK/HBH announced to its staff that it was merging with BNC. Both powerful brands are owned by advertising and marketing giant InterPublic, which gave its blessing to the union when the pair began negotiations about two months ago. “We went to them and said, ‘This is what we want to do,’ and they loved it,” an insider tells me. I’ve learned that the combined PR firms will represent more than 160 staff and gross billings over $70 million. “The idea was that during these transformational times right now we wanted a game-changer,” an insider explained to me just now. “It united two very powerful brands and will change the PR landscape in Hollywood.” Certainly, it’s a great fit in terms of skill sets and client rosters, with little duplication. (I’m told that is why the bigwigs aren’t “anticipating” any layoffs.) BNC specializes in more marketing and corporate representation in addition to its roster of celebrities and TV shows and moviemakers, while PMK/HBH has more celebrities and TV shows and moviemakers than marketing and corporate representation.
Because this is Hollywood, everyone atop both companies have known each other for seemingly forever. “It’s not like we’re strangers,” one insider tells me. “We’ve also been sister companies under the same parent.” However, this merger is not without its personnel problems. In a surprise move, two major PMK/HBH founders, Robin Baum and Stephen Huvane (the “B” and the 1st “H” in HBH which was a longtime stand-alone firm before it merged with PMK), walked in this morning and announced their resignation from the firm because they didn’t want to be part of the union. (Miscellaneous fact: Baum and BNC’s Michael Nyman — the “N” in BNC — were once married 20 years ago.) I’m told that PMK/HBH found out from my post this morning that Baum and Huvane (brother of CAA uber-partner Kevin Huvane) were going to work with Ina Treciokas, the former ID PR bigwig who left in 2008 to start her own agency. (ID’s Ina Treciokas Starts Own PR Agency.) Baum’s high-profile clients include Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, while Huvane’s include Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow. Why Ina’s firm? I’m told Huvane and Treciokas both worked for Susan Geller’s PR firm in the early 1990s when they were coming up in the flackery biz, before he and Baum partnered and then joined Simon Halls, the 2nd “H” in HBH. Ina joined another former Geller flack, Kelly Bush at ID).
But the combined PMK/HBH-BNC client roster is large and deep and comprises some 350 clients, including (in no particular order): Matt Damon, Katherine Heigl, Courtney Cox, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Ridley Scott, Sam Mendes, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Simpson, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Eva Mendes, Whoopie Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Serena Williams, Brooke Shields, Shia LaBeouf, Chris Pine, Colin Farrell, Glenn Close, Zach Braff, Tracy Morgan, Shonda Rhimes, Bill Lawrence, House, Community, Mandeville Films, and the Emmys as well as Audi, Nintendo, Amazon, Target, Samsung, and MAC Cosmetics..
Also leaving PMK/HBH is Alan Eichorn, the New York based publicist, but my sources claim it had been in the works for some time and is not related to the merger. Today’s PMK/HBH departures follow what I’ve already reported was the sudden and surprising 5 PM exit on Friday of Nate Schreiber, president of the high-profile flackery, who was upped a year ago January when Pat Kingsley stepped down from her CEO post to go it alone as a consultant. That’s also when Simon Halls and Cindi Berger were made co-CEOs of PMK/HBH. Today, after my news broke, even rival PR companies were telling me “This merger makes a lot of sense. PMK, while an awesome brand, can use the management expertise that BNC provides.” Meanwhile, those competitors are questioning the $70M figure. They note that gross billings include the out-of-pocket billings for events that the agencies run through their businesses. So, traditionally, PR firms are measured by fees, and that number is $25M-$35M. Meanwhile, Interpublic also owns Rogers & Cowan.
MONDAY 10:20 AM: Sources are also telling me that PMK/HBH announced at a staff meeting this morning that it will be merging with BNC on January 1st. Back in mid-October, a rumor swept the PR world that PMK/HBH was hooking up with BWR.
MONDAY 10:05 AM: Sources tell me that Robin Baum and Stephen Huvane are leaving PMK/HBH and partnering with Ina Treciokas, the former ID PR bigwig who left in 2008 to start her own agency. (ID’s Ina Treciokas Starts Own PR Agency.) I’m also being told there was another major announcement this AM at the Hollywood flackery.
SUNDAY 5:30 PM: For months now I’ve been receiving a lot of blind tips about big changes coming atop PMK/HBH, involving execs and mergers, all denied by the company. Well, this hasn’t been officially announced: Nate Schreiber, president of the high-profile flackery, left as of 5PM PT on Friday. He was upped a year ago January when Pat Kingsley stepped down from her CEO post to go it alone as a consultant, and Simon Halls and Cindi Berger were made co-CEOs. Sources insist there are more shoes to drop at PMK/HBH so beware if you stroll near the Blue Whale.