Weber Shandwick has launched United Minds, a management consultancy.
The new group will be led by Kate Bullinger, formerly Weber’s global head of employee engagement and change management. The offering combines Bullinger’s previous remit with United Minds Sweden which Weber acquired in 2014, when it bought United Minds parent company Prime and created Prime Weber Shandwick.
Bullinger, with the new title of head of United Minds, is based in New York, a Weber representative told PRWeek. She will lead the consultancy along with the former CEO of United Minds Sweden Thomas Areskoug, who is now head of United Minds’ business strategy efforts. Bullinger reports to Micho Spring, president of Weber’s global corporate practice. Areskoug has both local and global reporting lines, a representative said.
United Minds will employ just over 60 people and operate in offices in North America and Europe, expanding to APAC and Latin America in 2019.
CultureShift, a separate consulting offering Weber rolled out in May, will also be folded into United Minds, Bullinger said. CultureShift helps clients manage employee cultural issues in the wake of mergers and acquisitions.
Weber created United Minds in response to client demand, said Weber CEO Andy Polansky.
"Companies are increasingly turning to our firm for advice and strategy around business transformation and employee engagement." he said. "We’re getting more and more of those requests from clients and thought there would be real power in putting these capabilities together."
Bullinger said in addition to offering strategic advice, United Minds will be able to follow through on projects in a way that traditional management consultancies can’t.
"So a lot of consultancy firms end with the strategy," she said. "What we are doing is tapping into the creative people, the government relations people, and the breadth of Weber Shandwick’s capacities and what the firm does well, which is engagement. We’ll be using a combination of the consulting talent we’ve drawn on as well as the broad ranging engagement talent we have in Weber."
United Minds will be competing with traditional management consultants and with similar offerings from other PR firms. Earlier this year, for example, Edelman hired Richard Wergan to lead the Edelman Advisory. Wergan came to Edelman from Royal Phillips where he had been EVP, and global head of brand and communications.
Polansky said competition from Edelman or other comms firms is to be expected.
"It’s consistent with what we’re seeing within the broader marketing services world and professional services world," he said. "There are all types of communications consultancies competing for different business. And we sometimes partner with the consulting firms as well. When it comes down to it, what the ask is determines who you are going to compete with."
Polansky said he expects United Minds to be a solid growth area for Weber and said the consultancy will expand.
"This is one of our fastest growing businesses in Weber," he said. "We have a lot of business opportunity here and a lot of client demand."
According to the PRWeek Agency Business Report 2018, Weber was the second largest PR firm globally in 2017, with revenue of $805.5 million. Weber, the largest PR firm within Interpublic Group’s Constituency Management Group, saw mid-single-digit growth on an as-reported and organic basis in Q3, compared to a slight organic and as-reported revenue drop in Q3 2017.