Fleishman-Hillard is one of the largest public relations companies in the world with a global network of offices as well as offices in 22 cities in the United States. It is owned by Omnicom.
In a listing on its website of PR companies with a crisis management capability, the American Meat Institute described F-H in the US as having "managed crises for the oil, railroad, airline, meat, poultry, produce and high-tech communications industries. Fleishman currently is on retainer for the Partnership for Food Safety Education." 
According to the F-H firm's website: "In 1946, in St. Louis, Missouri, Fleishman-Hillard founders Al Fleishman and Bob Hillard tapped out the beginnings of a business on the keyboards of their manual typewriters... For the next twenty-some years, the firm served a mainly regional client base, until 1974 when John Graham [John D. Graham] was named president. Under his leadership, Fleishman-Hillard has undergone the most dynamic period of domestic and international expansion. Fleishman-Hillard grew from two offices in St. Louis and Kansas City, to over 80 offices located throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, and South Africa."
In May 2004, San Francisco Chronicle reporter David Lazarus questioned whether codes of conduct were broken when Marc Bien, who he interviewed with the understanding that Bien was Vice-President of Corporate Communications for the telecommunications giant SBC Communications, was actually found to be an employee of F-H.
Lazarus wrote, in a follow-up article on a possible strike at SBC: "I quoted an SBC spokesman the other day defending the company's use of hundreds of outside contractors -- a contentious issue in the contract talks with union members. Turns out, according to internal SBC documents, that the spokesman, Marc Bien, himself is a 'nonemployee' who is actually on the payroll of public- relations powerhouse Fleishman-Hillard. He is, in other words, an outside contractor, as are dozens of other Fleishman employees who assist with SBC's corporate spin. What makes the case unusual, though, is that Bien, who has appeared in this column many times representing SBC's position on a variety of matters, bears the title of SBC vice president of corporate communications. His business cards say as much, and he works in the firm's San Francisco office. Internal documents show that about a half-dozen SBC vice presidents are in reality Fleishman employees. Yet they present themselves as SBC executives."
U.S. government PR contracts
According to the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, Fleishman-Hillard received the following amounts per year, for federal PR contracts: 
- $39,000 in 1998
- $33,589,000 in 1999
- $2,344,000 in 2000
- $5,011,996 in 2001
- $23,903,419 in 2002
- $3,433,690 in 2003
- $8,686,529 in 2004
The firm's federal work has included the Social Security Administration, on the “Ticket to Work” program for disabled and blind Social Security recipients; Library of Congress; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Defense, to introduce “managed care” to 8.3 million current and former employees, at a time of “rising medical costs” and “decreasing resources”; and Office of National Drug Control Policy, to “debunk the misconception that marijuana was harmless."
Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations
F-H's Government Relations practice "has offices in Washington, D.C., New York City, Albany, and Minneapolis," according to the Holmes Report ("Former Congressman Joins Fleishman Government Relations," March 19, 2007). The practice is "led by co-chairmen former Congressman Max Sandlin, former Bronx borough president and New York City Democratic mayoral nominee Fernando Ferrer, and Michael McKeon, former communications director to Governor George Pataki."
In March 2007, former Congressman Bill Luther joined the practice as a senior vice-president. Luther served on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the International Relations Committee and the Science Committee, according to the Holmes Report ("Former Congressman Joins Fleishman Government Relations," March 19, 2007).
Also in March 2007, F-H Government Relations announced that former Missouri Senator Jim Talent had joined the firm as Co-Chairman. The firm cited Talent's bipartisan success in securing funding and construction bonds in the highway bill and in passing the "most comprehensive anti-meth bill ever enacted into law", as well his leadership role in efforts to add a renewable fuels standard to the energy bill as accomplishments which would enhance F-H's ability to "work on important issues like increasing access to healthcare, improving our transportation infrastructure, and strengthening our military". 
In June 2007, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that, in his new role as co-chair of Fleishman-Hillard's government relations practice, former U.S. Senator Jim Talent will be "spearheading the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers' bid to torpedo the effort to raise fuel mileage standards to 52 miles per gallon" by 2030. Instead, the automakers are supporting a compromise measure from Senators Carl Levin and Kit Bond. "Talent cannot lobby for the Levin-Bond bill because of Senate rules," explained O'Dwyer's. "He can do media outreach on behalf of the carmakers." 
In January 2009, Fleishman-Hillard announced it was establishing an "FH Moms" practice, "to provide strategic counsel on communicating with moms through an integrated range of touch points that includes both traditional and online media, as well as influencer and word-of-mouth marketing," according to the Holmes Report. The practice "will bring together specialists from the firm's diverse practice areas, including marketing communications, healthcare, technology, travel and tourism, FH Hispania, and financial communications. FH Moms will be co-chaired by Liz Hawks, Heidi Hovland and Kris Caputo Hurley from the firm's Kansas City, New York and Sacramento offices respectively." 
According to Fleishman-Hillard, mothers are responsible for 85 percent of household purchasing decisions. The firm partnered with the marketing firm the Harrison Group, "to develop a proprietary study, Women, Power and Money: A Shift to the New Female-Driven Economy, which found a clear vision of the mom as chief household officer and reported that in 'millions of American households, moms set the purchasing agenda for everything from traditional packaged goods to financial and home improvement services.'" 
Political action committee
According to the Center for Responsive Politics database, Fleishman-Hillard federal political action committee had raised more than $79,000 as of October for the 2004 election cycle, with 47% of the donations given at that point going to Democrats, and 53% to Republicans. In the 2002 election cycle, the PAC gave 48% of the $59,800 raised to Democrats, and 52% to Republicans. In 2000, 44% of the $40,900 raised went to Democrats, 56% to Republicans. In 1998, 45% of the $37,250 raised was given to Democrats, 55% to Republicans. 
According to O'Dwyer's PR Report, in mid-2004 F-H clients included:
- the state of Illinois, "to handle PR and public affairs to prevent the closure of Scott Air Force Base in the southern part of the state" ;
- Novell, Sun Microsystems and J.D. Edwards, in a San Francisco-based "effort to use customer outreach programs to add their voice to clients' PR, sales and marketing efforts";
- Great Plains Airlines, a short-lived St. Louis-based service that declared bankruptcy after four months; and
- Circuit City, a $1 million account. 
Other clients include:
- Democratic Party of Japan 
- HBOS, the UK’s biggest mortgage and savings bank;  (Sub req'd)
- Quickie Manufacturing Corporation 
- AtheroGenics Inc 
- Marriott Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Hotels *Mexicana Airlines 
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners 
- California Grown 
- Egypt 
- San Joaquin County 
- Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a "post-graduate, research-focused university ... scheduled to open in 2009," according to PR Week 
In August 2004, PR Week reported that the Chicago office of F-H were advising PepsiCo with a campaign to respond to concern about rising levels of obesity. The campaign will promote the company's "Smart Spot" on a range of products which it claims contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
The Holmes Report writes: "Fleishman-Hillard has better national coverage than any of its competitors, with 34 domestic offices. With more than 400 employees, the St. Louis headquarters continues to rank among the largest concentrations of PR talent on the planet, and to handle a wide variety of consumer, business-to-business and corporate clients."
Holmes also notes: "Fleishman-Hillard has been getting more and more deeply involved in the biotechnology sector, helping the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Council of Biotechnology Information communicate the benefits of the technology to consumers and opinion leaders."
In August 2006, one day after the Associated Press reported that the electronic voting machine company Election Systems & Software (ES&S) "agreed to a $750,000 settlement that resolves complaints filed after its software caused delays for some Indiana voters and election officials during the state's May primary," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that Fleishman-Hillard was representing ES&S. 
Fleishman-Hillard and UK politics
In April 2005 Kevin Maguire wrote of F-H distributing a glossy brochure to their clients sketching the likely changes that could be expected under a Labour government led by Gordon Brown. "Warning multinational bosses that the next Labour premier's philosophy is built on - wait for it - equity, the booklet predicts Brown will centralise power around himself," Maguire wrote. 
In June 2005, Kevin Bell from the UK arm of Fleishman-Hillard spoke at a one-day conference in London called ID Cards: Towards Procurement and Implementation. The title of his talk was "Achieving public acceptance". 
EU petition manipulation
As an effort to greater transparency and public input, the EU commission introduced a series of petitions as a means to obtain public input. These petitions became the target of two PR companies (Bell Pottinger and Fleishman-Hillard) who offered to manipulate the results to affect EU legislation.
- A Public Relations Proposal for ACVA Atlantic, Inc.
- Fleishman-Hillard & the controversy on overbilling the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
- A Public Relations Proposal for Air Conditioning Ventilation Associates Atlantic Atlantic, Inc.
- FH St. Louis
- 200 N. Broadway
- St. Louis, MO 63102
- Phone: 314-982-7725
- Web: www.fleishman.com
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Fleishman-Hillard's International Advisory Board
- Barry McCaffrey
- Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S)
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Public relations firms
- Public relations associations
- Public relations professionals
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "New Fleishman Practice Focuses on Marketing to Moms," Holmes Report (sub req'd), January 26, 2009.
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- ↑ Kevin Rawlinson, Revealed: lobbyists' plans to hijack 'people's petitions', Independent, 10 April 2012.
- Claudia H. Deutsch, "The Boss Who Plays Now Pays," New York Times, June 13, 1991.
- David Lazarus, "Union, SBC Talks Resume," San Francisco Chronicle, May 5, 2004.
- American Meat Institute, "Public Relations Firms With Crisis Management Capabilities, accessed February 8, 2004.
- Andrew Davis, "Fleishman-Hillard: Out in Front of the Competition", Windy City Times, December 15, 2004. (This is an interview with F-H's Phillip Sontag about it's launch of a gay and lesbian PR and marketing practice, FH Out Front).
- "CREW Files Complaint Against Social Security Administration -- SSA Paid Fleischman-Hillard $1.8 million", Media Release, February 23, 2005.
- Dan Bloch, "F-H to highlight HBOS’s social banking agenda", PR Week, April 01 2005. (Sub req'd)
- "Former Fleishman-Hillard L.A. chief sues for wrongful termination", The Mercury News, March 30, 2005. (This is an Associated Press story).
- Kevin Maguire, "The insider - Kevin Maguire on election brochures and butties", New Statesman, April 18, 2005.
- Philip Dine, "Illinois spends at least $3 million lobbying to save military bases", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 5, 2005.
- "Koizumi and chief rival a study in contrasts", Mainichi Daily News, September 5, 2005.
- Alex Black, "F-H bags Egypt attempt to woo foreign investors", PR Week, September 9, 2005. (Sub req'd).
- Les Mahler, "San Joaquin County retains D.C. lobbyist: Vote to keep Fleishman-Hillard touches off debate", Tri-Valley Herald, October 30, 2005.
- Bob Evans, "How a company cashed in on anthrax", Kansas City Star, December 9, 2005. (Originally published in Daily Press, Newport News, Va.)
- Josh Kleinbaum, "Main witness still in hot seat: PR veep: I cooperated with prosecution for immunity", Los Angeles Daily News, April 14, 2006.
- John Stauber, Food Flack Nation Attacks Journalist Eric Schlosser, PRWatch.com, May 11, 2006
- Charles Wilson, "Company agrees to $750,000 settlement for election troubles", Associated Press, August 22, 2006.
- "ES&S Counts on F-H," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), August 23, 2006.
- "Senator Jim Talent Joins Fleishnman-Hillard Government Relations," , March 21, 2007
- Ted McKenna, "Fleishman touting new Saudi graduate university," PR Week, May 17, 2007.
- "Big Three Put Talent in Driver's Seat," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), June 18, 2007.
- David Barstow, "One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex," New York Times, November 29, 2008.
- Diane Farsetta, "An Officer and a Conflicted Man: McCaffrey, the Pentagon and Fleishman-Hillard," PR Watch, December 5, 2008.
- Press release, "Patient Recruitment Leaders Form National Steering Committee," The Patient Recruitment Organization via PharmaLive.com, May 13, 2009.