Weber Shandwick expands integrated offering

The firm continues to evolve beyond its PR roots with hires across data and analytics, creative and integrated media.

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Weber Shandwick continues to evolve from a conventional PR company into one that Canadian president and CEO Greg Power says is “data-driven, human-led and powered by earned ideas.”

To that effect, the Toronto-based firm has announced four senior hires (three of which are for new roles) to help bolster its chops in the areas of data and analytics, creative, integrated media and project management.

The new posts will be filled by Jamie Hong, director of data and analytics, Deane Code, director of integrated media and Sara Cook, VP of integrated project management. Weber has also hired Erik dela Cruz as associate creative director, a new hire for an already existing role who will “add depth in conceptual creative writing” to the team, according to Power.

“Our strength in data and analytics is essential to understanding how to find, define and engage an audience and build a community of shared interests with a brand. Instinct and good judgement is important,” Power told strategy in an email. “But in a world gone [quantitative], we need the best data to inform decisions and stay close to all stakeholders.”

Last month, the shop rolled out a new “We Solve” positioning meant to reflect its approach to using creative, digital innovation and analytics to solve its clients’ business challenges, Power says.

Weber first established a planning team in 2016, which Hong will further develop having previously led strategy and development of a new advertising product as a marketing technologist at Rogers Media. At Weber, he will work to “enhance data workflows, training and implementation” for clients, according to a press release.

The shop’s creative offering dates back even further. In 2011, it added its first creative director; it built a full creative team by 2013; and added Canadian creative leadership the year after that. Dela Cruz will now be part of that leadership team. Throughout his career at Juniper Park\TBWA, BBDO, McCann and Arrivals + Departure, he has done work for General Motors, MasterCard, Molson Coors and other brands.

Meanwhile, Cook will work on “process models” for clients with integrated needs, advising them on operational efficiencies and on matters related to finances, resourcing and communications. She has held senior roles at other PR firms, including Veritas and Harbinger. Cook is joined by director of integrated media Deane Code, who will lead and expand Weber’s programs with media and influencers, having led work for brands in food, health and wellness, consumer finance, home entertainment and beauty.

“Where most PR agencies have a team responsible for earned media, their digital experts have been historically siloed and separate. As a result, the strategy and message delivery often don’t line up across platforms,” Power says. “We believe the lines between earned media, paid media and influencers will continue to blur. So we ‘integrate’ these experts together in one group to reflect the nature of the audiences and channels to reach them.”

All four hires will be based in Toronto but will support work across the Montreal and Vancouver offices as well. Power says they will play a role with recent client wins, as well as long-standing clients, but did not specify which clients those were.