Courage. Commitment. Success.
We established the field of strategic communications more than 80 years ago. Today, we uphold our stated commitment to offering the best in our industry.
In 1927 as the nation was sliding into the worst economic disaster in history, John W. Hill had the courage to walk away from a secure job to follow his dream. Hill left a successful newspaper career to open a public relations firm in Cleveland. His early clients were banks, steel manufacturers and other industrial companies in the Midwest. When one of the banks failed, he partnered with its public relations director, Donald Knowlton.
Despite the country’s economic turmoil, Hill & Knowlton grew quickly. Hill moved the firm's headquarters to New York in 1934 to serve as public relations counsel to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Knowlton stayed in Ohio and operated Hill & Knowlton of Cleveland as a separate entity.
In 1952 when companies began expanding their business to other countries, Hill took advantage of the trend and created a network of affiliates across Europe. Hill & Knowlton soon became the first multinational public relations company. Hill managed the firm until 1962 and remained active in it until shortly before his death in 1977.
Hill & Knowlton was acquired in 1980 by JWT Group Inc. (J. Walter Thompson). WPP Group, the world’s largest communications services group, acquired JWT in 1987 along with Hill & Knowlton.
Meanwhile, Jack Martin, a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, started Public Strategies, Inc. in 1988 as a public affairs and business advisory firm. Its rapid growth and success eventually attracted the attention of WPP Group, which acquired Public Strategies in 2006.
In 2011, Martin became global chairman and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies. H+K and Public Strategies, both of which are still owned by WPP, now share several executives from the leadership team. Each firm offers clients a unique combination of global expertise, world-class talent and strong corporate communications, public affairs, research and digital capabilities.
H+K Strategies today continues John Hill’s legacy as a global public relations and public affairs consultancy with expert reach, deep knowledge and a track record of client success. We have worked with more than half of all Fortune 500 companies somewhere in the world. Today, our teams of strategic counselors, trusted advisors and creative experts work out of 90 offices and in 52 countries across the globe.
For the rest of our story, see our clients’ success.