Ogilvy has named Edelman and Waypoint Partners veteran Julianna Richter global CEO of PR and Influence.
She is set to start in the role in January, reporting to Ogilvy global CEO Andy Main.
Richter will be responsible for all aspects of Ogilvy’s global PR business, including reputation management, brand influence, C-suite and advocacy, media influence and employee experience.
She noted that the position is a global role leading PR and influence, but she will focus on regions close to home to increase growth.
“For any international agency, the North American part of the business is a critical growth driver,” she said. “So that’s going to be an area of focus for me.”
Richter explained that she plans to address three general areas next year. First, she is planning to identify centers of excellence in the agency’s PR and influence services and “extend them throughout the rest of the networks,” she said. Richter added that she plans to make the PR and influence offering more cohesive by bringing together teams at the agency and “infusing them with new technologies.”
She also noted that she wants to take the firm’s PR and influence services and invest in specialties, skill sets and technologies that will drive growth for clients.
“Communications is critical when it comes to driving growth and transforming businesses, which is why it is essential for Ogilvy to have a best-in-class public relations and influence business and a cohesive, modern offering,” Main said, mirroring Richter’s priorities. “I am confident her communications background and proven leadership experience at global agency networks combined with her recent work bringing together brand building, data and technology to unlock growth will create value for our clients at speed and scale.”
The global PR CEO position has been empty since Stuart Smith left the WPP firm in January 2019 to join Vegolutionary Foods as chief marketing and growth officer. Ogilvy’s former U.S. leader for PR and influence, Michele Anderson, joined Edelman in February.
Richter will work alongside Devika Bulchandani, who was named Ogilvy’s North American CEO and global chair of advertising in November, with responsibility for PR and influence, health, advertising, brand and content, experience and growth and innovation in North America. Ogilvy also promoted Kate Cronin to CEO of Ogilvy Health in October. Main joined Ogilvy as CEO this summer.
Main’s three hires appear to be a reversal of the streamlining strategy former Ogilvy CEO John Seifert began in 2017, when the agency moved to one P&L and deleted individual brands such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ogilvy One and Ogilvy PR.
“Our clients have told us it’s too complicated working in the operating structure that’s been built up over time,” Seifert said at the time. “They want a simpler, more seamless access organization to do business with.”
Although Richter, Bulchandani and Cronin are CEOs with specific remits, the concept of an overall Ogilvy brand “hasn’t changed at all,” Richter said. “In fact, it’s probably intensified,”
“What I think might be what you’re tapping into is there are different businesses within the Ogilvy brand and Ogilvy ecosystem,” she said. “Certainly, bringing someone like myself in to really focus on PR and influence as a business globally, making sure that it’s aligned and pulling from some of the other businesses as needed in a very integrated way and a very focused way…I think that [is] what companies are looking for right now.”
Until she starts at Ogilvy next month, Richter is continuing to work as a partner at merger and acquisition advisory firm Waypoint Partners, a job she took last July. She said she is closing out several pieces of business and assignments for the rest of this year.
Waypoint U.S. managing partner Brett Davis said his firm “was sad to see her go,” but “with an impressive 20-plus years on the agency side, Richter’s transition comes as no surprise.” He added that the firm is planning to add two partners to its U.S. team in Q1.
Before Waypoint, Richter worked at Edelman for 18 years, most recently as the agency’s U.S. COO, a position she left in November 2018. She has been a member of both the PRWeek Champions of PR and 40 Under 40 lists.