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Porter Novelli

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Porter Novelli
IndustryPublic relations
Founded1972; 52 years ago (1972) in Washington, D.C., United States
FoundersBill Novelli
Jack Porter
Mike Carberry
Robert T. Druckenmiller[1]
New York, New York
Number of locations
35 (2017)
Area served
Key people
Jillian Janaczek (CEO)
Number of employees
720 (2017)
ParentOmnicom Group
SubsidiariesCone Communications
Voce Communications[2]

Porter Novelli is a public relations firm, part of Omnicom Group.[3] The company has 35 owned offices[2] and clients in 60 countries.[4]

The firm was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1972 by Bill Novelli and Jack Porter. Its first major client was the National Institutes of Health. Omnicom Group acquired Porter Novelli in 1988. Historically, most of the company's revenue has come from the information technology and pharmaceutical sectors. In the 2010s, Porter Novelli acquired both Voce Communications and Cone Communications. In 2018, the firm launched a "purpose practice" for organizations focused on corporate social responsibility. Past notable campaigns include an HIV prevention campaign for the Centers for Disease Control, the USDA MyPyramid food guidance system, and the M&M's Global Color Vote.



The firm was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1972 by Bill Novelli and Jack Porter, advertising executives, who worked together to market the Peace Corps. The company's first major client was the National Institutes of Health, for whom they created the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.[5]

In 1981, an advertising agency in Chicago called Needham Harper Steers acquired Porter Novelli, turning the agency into Needham Porter Novelli, with offices in additional cities. Needham merged with Omnicom in 1988, at which point Porter Novelli expanded internationally. The firm established Porter Novelli International in 1996, partnering with UK firm Countrywide Communications Group, another Omnicom agency.[1][6]

Helen Ostrowski became CEO of the company in 2001, the first female CEO of a top 10 PR firm; she served in that role until 2008.[7][8] In 2006 most of the company's revenue came from the Information technology sector, followed by the pharmaceutical sector.[7] The company formed a new business unit in 2006 dedicated specifically to the biotechnology industry.[9] From 1988 to 2016, Hewlett-Packard was a major client of the firm, including when Hewlett-Packard split into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2015.[10][11]

The company created a Jack + Bill "popup agency" in September 2008 led by eight younger Porter Novelli employees.[12] In 2008 several senior managers left along with Ostrowski, and Gary Stockman was made CEO.[8]

In 2011, Porter Novelli acquired Silicon Valley-based Voce Communications.[13] That same year, several senior executives left the firm, including its global digital director, director of global health and regulatory affairs, executive VP for strategic planning and research, senior VP for global digital and PR and its executive VPs for global content director and social media.[14] Departures continued in 2012 with departures of Stockman, the CFO, the chief marketing officer, and the president.[15][16][17] Karen van Bergen was selected as the new CEO in December 2012.[18] In November 2013, the Navy Federal Credit Union filed a complaint against the firm in the San Diego County Superior Court to collect payment on a contract.[19] Brad MacAfee then became CEO in February 2016, when van Bergen rose to the role of CEO of parent Omnicom Public Relations Group.[20] David Bentley became the CEO in March 2020, replacing Brad MacAfee.[21]

In 2017, Omnicom shifted Cone Communications under Porter Novelli, although Cone retains its separate brand.[22] In 2018, Porter Novelli launched a "purpose practice" for organizations focused on corporate social responsibility.[23][24] The company has also researched how advertising that features a brand's purpose affects consumer perception.[25][26]

In 2022, the firm co-published research with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disability and the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education, studying the use of a paid digital marketing campaign to promote a mobile childhood developmental tracking application.[27]

Jillian Janaczek, formerly of Burson Cohn & Wolfe, became CEO in August 2023, following David Bentley's departure in June 2023.[28]

House investigation


Between 2017 and 2020, Porter Novelli earned more than $5 million in taxpayer funds to promote the public profile of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, a Trump administration official.[29] In September 2020 the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a report outlining how Porter Novelli used taxpayer funds to promote Verma, and detailing how Porter Novelli shuffled money to private Republican political operators including Nahigian Strategies, Pam Stevens, and nearly two dozen other Republican contractors. The committee stated that CMS "potentially" violated the law by directing taxpayer funds.[30][29]

Notable campaigns


Porter Novelli has received attention for campaigns including an HIV prevention campaign for the Centers for Disease Control,[31] the USDA MyPyramid food guidance system,[32] the M&M's Global Color Vote,[33][34] and the Almond Board of California's "Carpe PM" campaign.[35] In 1998, the firm launched Florida's anti-tobacco "Truth" campaign,[36] which expanded nationally two years later.[37] The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 2009 gave the firm a three-year contract to support its "Learn More Breathe Better" campaign for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease awareness.[38][39] In 2015, Porter Novelli helped facilitate the Ice Bucket Challenge with the ALS Association, and guided the campaign to receive more national and international media attention.[40]

Porter Novelli was hired by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, designated with the task to attract businesses to the state, to rebrand Indiana's image after backlash from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law in March 2015.[41] The state considered eight other firms before selecting Porter Novelli. The state rejected Porter Novelli's suggestions of sponsoring the Silicon Valley Pride Festival or content in Pride Magazine.[42] The firm was fired after only three months.[43]


  1. ^ a b Heath, Robert L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Public Relations. Sage Publications, Inc. p. 266. ISBN 9781412952545. Retrieved 12 May 2017. porter novelli founding.
  2. ^ a b PRWeek staff (1 May 2017). "Porter Novelli - Looking to new areas". PRWeek. Retrieved 12 May 2017.(subscription required)
  3. ^ "PRWeek profile of Porter Novelli". PRWeek.
  4. ^ Miller, Kathleen (22 October 2007). "Power Profile: Bill Novelli: Former ad man unites AARP's 38 million members in pursuit of retirement security". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  5. ^ "The Pennsylvania Gazette: Taking on the Tobacco Giants". University of Pennsylvania. 1999-01-05. Archived from the original on 2022-08-10. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  6. ^ Nicholas, Kate (13 December 1996). "NEWS: 1996 Mad cows, fat cats and blue Pepsi". PRWeek. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Chandiramani, Ravi (November 8, 2006). "Profile: Helen Ostrowski, global chief executive, Porter Novelli". PR Week.
  8. ^ a b "Editors' Choice 2009: Who to watch". PR Week. January 5, 2009.
  9. ^ Barnes, Kirsty (17 January 2006). "Porter Novelli forms dedicated biotech biz". Outsourcing-Pharma.com. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Edelman Wins Lucrative HP Inc Global PR Duties". The Holmes Report. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Porter Novelli - Looking to New Areas". PR Week. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  12. ^ Elliott, Stuart (September 16, 2008). "A Pop-Up Agency Shows Off Emerging Talent". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  13. ^ Garcia, Tonya (24 February 2011). "Porter Novelli Acquires Voce". Adweek. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  14. ^ Dickson, Virgil (June 12, 2012). "Goldberg exits Porter Novelli after just six months".
  15. ^ Bruell, Alexandra (July 2, 2012). "More Turmoil in Porter Novelli's C-Suite". Ad Age.
  16. ^ "Gary Stockman to Leave Porter Novelli". Ad Age. June 22, 2012.
  17. ^ "Porter Novelli President Julie Winskie Exits Firm". Ad Age. January 19, 2012.
  18. ^ Barber, Lynsey (17 December 2012). "Karen van Bergen named Porter Novelli global CEO". PR Week. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Navy Federal Credit Union vs. Porter". UniCourt. 2021-12-24. Archived from the original on 2022-08-10. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  20. ^ Lazare, Lewis. "Porter Novelli names Brad MacAfee to top global post". Chicago Business Journal. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  21. ^ Czarnecki, Sean. "Porter Novelli's CEO reveals how he's turning around the PR firm by helping tie companies to social issues". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  22. ^ Czarnecki, Sean (9 February 2017). "Omnicom shifts Cone Communications under Porter Novelli". PRWeek. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  23. ^ Marszalek, Diana (13 February 2018). "New Porter Novelli Practice Puts Purpose Under One Group". The Holmes Report. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Porter Novelli". PR Week. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  25. ^ Czarnecki, Sean (30 May 2018). "Eight in 10 consumers say they're more loyal to purpose-driven brands: Cone". PRWeek. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  26. ^ Marszalek, Diana (29 May 2019). "Study: For Consumers, Brand Purpose Is Emotional". The Holmes Report. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  27. ^ Arshanapally, Suraj; Green, Katie; Slaughter, Karnesha; Muller, Robert; Wheaton, Demeika (2022-04-05). "Use of a Paid Digital Marketing Campaign to Promote a Mobile Health App to Encourage Parent-Engaged Developmental Monitoring: Implementation Study". JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting. 5 (2): e34425. doi:10.2196/34425. ISSN 2561-6722. PMC 9019642. PMID 35380545.
  28. ^ Marszalek, Diana (7 August 2023). "Jillian Janaczek Appointed Porter Novelli CEO". PRovoke Media. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  29. ^ a b Williamson, Elizabeth (2020-09-10). "Investigation of Medicare Chief Exposes Underside of Washington". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  30. ^ "Democratic Committee Leaders Release Report Detailing Abuse of Taxpayer Funds by Top Trump Administration Official". House Committee on Oversight and Reform. 2020-09-10. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  31. ^ Quenqua, Douglas (29 October 2004). "CDC hands Porter Novelli HIV-prevention brief". PRWeek. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  32. ^ Van Der Pool, Lisa (13 July 2004). "Porter Novelli Wins PR Contract With USDA". Adweek. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  33. ^ Severson, Kim (10 April 2005). "When a Food Marketer Devises Nutrition Advice". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  34. ^ Holmes, Paul. "M&M's Global Color Vote". Holmes Report. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  35. ^ Frederick, David (20 October 2017). "Almond Board of California Shows Consumers How to Crunch the Afternoon Crash". PR Week. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  36. ^ Zbar, Jeffery D. (28 June 1999). "National PR Society Awards Anvil To Novelli For Anti-smoking Ads". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  37. ^ Elliott, Stuart (4 February 2000). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; 'Youth' rhymes with 'Truth,' and both are central to a big new national campaign against smoking". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  38. ^ Lee, Jaimy (16 April 2009). "NHLBI hires PN to buoy COPD awareness efforts". PR Week. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  39. ^ Holmes, Paul (25 April 2009). "Porter Novelli Wins New NHLBI Business". The Holmes Report. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  40. ^ Nichols, Laura (2 July 2015). "Comms team goes all hands on deck amid ALS fundraising phenomenon". PR Week. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  41. ^ Terkel, Amanda (April 13, 2015). "Indiana Hires PR Firm To Rebuild Image After 'Religious Freedom' Fiasco". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  42. ^ Washkuch, Frank (2 March 2016). "Indiana considered Edelman, Levick, Sitrick before hiring Porter Novelli last spring for 'Religious Freedom' response". PR Week. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  43. ^ Porter Novelli, Gov. Mike Pence Tight-Lipped on ‘Religious Freedom’ Relationship Adweek, 2015