Seven Things to Know About McCann Boss Harris Diamond

Former Weber Shandwick Exec Can 'Sniff BS a Mile Away'

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Harris Diamond
Harris Diamond

During the time he logged heading Interpublic Group of Cos.' PR shop, Weber Shandwick, and overseeing the holding company's Constituency Management Group, Harris Diamond has gotten to know a variety of people in adland and a range of multinational clients. Still, for many on the creative and digital side, he's a bit of an unknown quantity. For staffers at McCann advertising and at MRM, as well as for those clients who'll be working with him going forward, here's a few facts to know about McCann Worldgroup's new boss.

1. He started out at the bottom. The Big Apple native's first job was hawking peanuts at Yankee Stadium. Mr. Diamond tells a story about how a stern scolding from an older man who worked at the Stadium with him up in the Bronx was a learning lesson. He's recounted the tale in a commencement speech at U.S.C. Annenberg's School of Journalism and in articles. "'What are you doing, kid?' the vendor barked at Mr. Diamond, who had stopped selling peanuts and stood, enthralled, watching the game. 'For 25 cents, you could be sitting in the bleachers!' The point that I drew from that was, if you're here to work, work. If you want to play, play. Never confuse the two," Mr. Diamond recalled. "It was probably one of the most important speeches I'd ever heard in my life, because it taught me what work was all about."

2. Those ballpark days definitely made an impact. He has said that his childhood hero was Mickey Mantle, who played for the New York Yankees from 1951 to 1968.

3. Mr. Diamond never did become a baseball player, but he does have a deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y. According to an Observer article from this summer, he has a 10th-floor pad on Fifth Avenue described as featuring a "gracious marble entrance gallery" that "links the expansive living room with wood-burning fireplace and oversized windows on Fifth Avenue to the well-scaled formal dining room." The asking price was apparently close to $7 million, but he seems to have bargained down a bit.

4. A onetime political consultant, Mr. Diamond is a democrat but a Reagan fan and thinks companies can take lessons from the former president. "The majority of Americans did not agree with him on many of his major policies," he said, speaking to The Times of India a decade ago, "especially his approach to government regulation and the environment. "But he was still one of the most popular presidents America ever had because he communicated a vision which people appreciated.''

5. In what could be a good thing for his new employees, he preaches the importance of transparency in organizations. From that same article: Before Enron, "it was OK for CEOs to get along with just their boards and senior customers. No longer. CEOs today need to be more open, have better leadership skills, build loyalty, explain clearly to the entire organization what the company's goals are. They need to have a powerful ability to communicate and that communication must be to a wide set of people, everybody from their boards to investors and reporters."

6. The man has a law degree and he's not afraid to put those skills to use. Earlier this year, he sued rival PR firm Hill Knowlton and sought a restraining order against the WPP company. The IPG shop alleged that former Weber Shandwick employees stole confidential information, clients and employees." Not only did Mr. Diamond succeed in getting a settlement, he also got a publicly apology from an employe for taking documents from her former employer.

7. But he knows his numbers, too. A former employee who now works for Edelman said last week in a blog post: "My top tip for anyone at McCann who will be meeting Harris in the next few days and weeks is make sure you know how to forecast your revenues; make sure you know your cost base; make sure you are intimately connected with your clients and their needs and make sure you do quality work, because he can sniff BS a mile away!"

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