At a time when all eyes are on media transparency in the industry, Publicis Media has hired Mike Paul, known as the "Reputation Doctor," to lead corporate communications internally and externally across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Mr. Paul, who started in the role last week, was hired for his "full, 360-degree corporate communications skill set" and his reputation management and crisis communications expertise were "part of the full package," said Lauren Hanrahan, global head of new business development and communications at Publicis Groupe's media-buying hub.
Ms. Hanrahan said the group is excited to have Mr. Paul join the team because he has a point-of-view on all areas of corporate communications and will bring new and different perspectives. Mr. Paul is succeeding Ashok Sinha, who left Publicis Media in October. He will report to Anita McGorty, exec VP-director of global communications for the media unit.
Ms. Hanrahan said media transparency issues and audits will be part of Mr. Paul's focus area. "In the past few months, our first and foremost focus has been working directly with our clients and collaborating with them when they have questions about the reports that have come out and giving them answers," she said.
Over the last few months, a number of big marketers, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Mars and General Electric, began conducting audits of their media agencies following findings from the Association of National Advertisers' media transparency inquiry by Ebiquity and K2. The report, which was released in early June, found that rebates, including "cash rebates" and "other non-transparent practices," are pervasive in the U.S. media buying ecosystem.
Ms. Hanrahan said Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy has confidently communicated that the company has "done well with these reports."
On the holding company's third-quarter conference call with analysts, Mr. Levy said more than 20 marketers had undertaken audits. "To date, what I can tell you is that all audits have been performed satisfactorily, including the J.P. Morgan Chase audit, which has been finally concluded recently," he said.
Publicis Groupe has also been undergoing internal reorganizations as part of its "Power of One" philosophy to help agencies across all sectors work more collaboratively. Mr. Paul will "absolutely be a part of that" in terms of making sure Publicis Media has clarity about the reorganization benefits, said Ms. Hanrahan.
She added that Publicis is looking at it as the reorganization being finished and the focus for 2017 being around transformation and unlocking the "Power of One" for clients, such as USAA, which the group won last month.
"Fifty percent of any position like this is internal communications, not just external, and one of the best ways to do that is to clearly communicate to staff and executives within the organization who we are, what we do and how we're changing," said Mr. Paul.
Mr. Paul, who has been heavily involved in diversity issues over the years, said Publicis' passion for diversity and inclusion was one of the factors that attracted him to the group. Aside from its creative and media capabilities, Publicis Groupe rose above competitors in the USAA pitch because of its focus on diversity, which includes a pledge to hire 30% of new staffers on the team from diverse communities and backgrounds.
Most recently, Mr. Paul served as president and founder of virtual PR firm Reputation Doctor. He sold the assets of the agency to his freelancers to "jump seamlessly" to the Publicis Media role, he said.