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PR Network of the Year EMEA 2020: Hill & Knowlton Strategies

Its strengths include good client relationships, excellent financial performance and bold work.

PR Network of the Year EMEA 2020: Hill & Knowlton Strategies

Celebrating 50 years in the region, Hill & Knowlton Strategies has built an enviable EMEA presence with more than 40 offices, as well as an extensive affiliate network. It works with more than half of the Fortune Global 500 companies, as well as some of EMEA’s most transformative social enterprises and technology companies.

In naming H & K Strategies as EMEA PR Network of the Year for the second year running, Campaign’s judges noted its strong client relationships, excellent financial performance and client work, 50/50 female representation at senior levels, and its investment in artificial intelligence.

Led by AnnaMaria DeSalva, global chairman and chief executive, and supported by global presidents Lars Erik Grønntun and Richard Millar, H & K has developed a "breadth and depth" model that brings together the best expertise and specialities from across EMEA to create agile teams for its clients.

Work highlights included H & K Sweden’s activity with Doconomy (pictured, top) and RBK Communications to create DO Black – a credit card that helps users limit carbon emissions by blocking transactions that exceed a specific CO2 level. H & K Dubai worked with Great Ormond Street Hospital to showcase its commitment to patient care, looking beyond the medical care provided, or the illnesses treated, to focus on the fact that its patients are also just kids.

H & K Poland helped vodka brand Absolut to take a stand against hate speech with the Absolut "Love over hate" campaign, while H & K UK partnered GSK to develop "Vaccinate for life" – realised through a chatbot with a fun and appropriately playful personality to interact with the target audience.

Innovation was also high on the agenda in 2019. The network developed several products and services to boost clients’ performance. These included investment in AI in the shape of Space+/-, which uses data from audience conversations to identify issues that will best drive editorial interest and audience outcomes. H & K partnered Happy Finish, the extended-reality production company to launch REALITY+TM, providing VR, AR and 360-degree video production together with communications. And Double Filtered CopyTM was created to deliver storytelling through the filters of behavioural science and design. In the first year of the service, H & K produced more than 400 pieces – from thought-leadership reports to newsletters and social copy.

Staff training and development was accelerated during 2019, with a 72% increase in hours. Specific programmes were launched, including MentorHER, a formal mentoring scheme for women that has become part of H & K’s women’s network, HER (Helping Executives Rise). Since its inception, H & K has made nearly 350 mentor/mentee pairings, and 98% of participants said they would recommend the initiative to a colleague. H & K also created YouBelong, a diversity initiative with the aim of encouraging every employee to feel a sense of belonging and to inspire them to reach their full professional and personal potential.

Based on rock-solid foundations in the region, H & K delivered excellence in all areas to win the award for 2019.