Health care and beyond
Porter Novelli was founded in Washington, DC in 1972 by Jack Porter and Bill Novelli. The following year it helped its first client - the National High Blood Pressure Education Program - launch a public education program on detecting and treating hypertension. Since then, the agency has been offering marketing-based PR services to a variety of industries, including health care, technology, and consumer products industries. In addition, it serves public affairs, community, and government groups. Porter Novelli was the spin-doctor behind product launches of some of the best-known brands in the world, including Hasbro's Cabbage Patch Kids (1983) and Pillsbury's first microwave cake mix (1993). It also helped introduce the "Flavr Savr" tomato (1994), the first genetically-engineered whole food, and over-the-counter sales of Nicoderm products (1996).
"An office in every port"
With 84 offices in 45 different countries, Porter Novelli is the world's fourth-largest PR agency network. PN insists that it offers more than integrated, multinational marketing strategies; it also boasts international "perspectives." Instead of sending American employees out to launch foreign offices, Porter Novelli often acquires local PR leaders in different markets. The agency is also dedicated to sharing information across the company. Using an agency-wide intranet and international leadership conferences, leaders from every outpost benefit from each other's experience and creativity. Porter Novelli is a subsidiary of advertising giant Omnicom Group.
True to its committment to provide the best service possible in every country, in 2000 the agency formed a deal with Russia's largest PR group, Triangle. Triangle is now the Russian affiliate of Porter Novelli International, and the two companies are discussing a merger.
Best in the industry
Like rivals Edelman, Ketchum, and Golin/Harris, Porter Novelli recently launched corporate and public affairs practices. According to PR Central, an industry publication, the agency's New York headquarters is its most successful office, and consistently outperforms the market. Recent account wins include Searle (health care), Braun (consumer), and an anti-smoking initiative in Florida (social marketing). In 2000 Porter Novelli was tapped to launch campaigns for some unconventional clients, namely the Community Reinvestment Act, which was facing eradication, and the expasion of a gay village. In addition, several clients - including Dole, Pfizer, and P&G - have increased their spending and expanded accounts globally with the agency.
Porter Novelli does not have an agency-wide campus recruiting program, but individual offices do participate in "campus career days." Job openings at Porter Novelli are posted on the company web site which features online applications. One insider reveals that "entry-level positions are often given to interns or temps," and "a lot of people come in through referrals." Several sources advise recent graduates to ask for an informational interview before applying. In addition to a resume and cover letter, "if you have anything published in a magazine or newspaper, pass it along."
Sources say entry-level interviews "are not stressful," but can be "very involved." Even applicants for the administrative assistant position "are required to take an aptitude test" (to gauge editing skills). Candidates for the assistant account executive and higher positions must demonstrate their writing skills in a two-hour writing test. Applicants should expect "a series of interviews with most members of an account team and the general manager." Employees also stress benefits of fluency in a second language.
Nobody wants to leave
Both Porter Novelli and Brodeur employees refer to the fact that their employers have "the lowest attrition rate in the industry." Not surprising, considering that almost everyone we contacted says they "absolutely love" their job. "Working at Brodeur is an absolutely wonderful experience," exclaims a source, "personally, professionally, and socially." Adds another insider: "I have been here for about a year and a half and I truly enjoy the people, the environment, and the quality of work." After working at three other PR agencies, yet another satisfied employee asserts that "Porter Novelli is by far the best." "Although Brodeur is owned by Porter Novelli," one informant asserts that "the cultures are a little different. Brodeur's main focus is on the people who work here, and providing clients with the best service possible comes next."
A place to develop
Not only is Porter Novelli one of the top five PR agencies worldwide, "it has one of the fastest growth rates in the industry." Employees also describe the agency as "an exceptional place to develop a career in public relations." "I have developed my PR skills at Porter Novelli," notes an insider, who adds: "I believe that the agency's reputation helps strengthen my resume and will open many doors for me." Both PN and Brodeur employees feel there is room for professional development. "There is plenty of room to grow and gain more responsibilities as you learn," explains a Porter Novelli insider. Another cites "a strong management team that encourages teamwork."
Laid-back, long hours
Salaries are "competitive with those at other large agencies," and employees receive "a full benefits package plus the option to participate in profit sharing and a 401(k) plan." As in any PR firm, "work hours can be long, with an average of 50 hours a week." Sources say "the corporate culture is laid-back" and there is "no formal dress code."
Strong on diversity
According to one Porter Novelli insider, diversity is "one of our strengths. Our staff is very diverse racially, ethnically, and by gender." Adds another: "Being a minority here is not an issue." One Latina informant asserts, "I am treated fairly and my contributions are recognized." Brodeur is also "a well-rounded workplace." One source describes it as "very young and very conscious of women and minorities." In fact, Brodeur's president and senior vice president are both women - president Andy Carney was one of the company's founders, and SVP Margaret Bonilla joined the agency in 1995.
Creative Services;Interactive Marketing;Media Relations;Product launches;Research
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