Public relations firm Hill & Knowlton has ridden its reputation as a straight-shooter straight to the top. The company (whose founder John W. Hill emphasized the importance of dealing honestly and openly with the press) is one of the largest PR firms in the US and a part of advertising conglomerate WPP Group. Hill & Knowlton's services range from marketing communications to corporate reputation management to political lobbying. With almost 80 offices spanning some 45 countries, it caters to the technology and health industries; Lobbying firm Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates and Finnish unit Hill and Knowlton Finland Oy act as subsidiaries for Hill & Knowlton.
In early 2011, WPP officially merged Hill & Knowlton with Texas-based Public Strategies, another PR consultancy it owned. Public Strategies has more than a dozen offices in the US and Mexico. The deal gave Hill & Knowlton a more significant presence in the important US market and enhanced its expertise in the public affairs, research, and financial sectors. Each company retained its brand identity after the merger.
The agency has been focused on expanding into China. In early 2008, Hill & Knowlton bought a 70% stake in Rikes Communications, a PR firm based in Hong Kong. The deal brought a sizeable amount of Chinese clients to Hill & Knowlton's customer base. The agency also acquired a majority interest in Synergy, its South Korean partner. In mid-2009, Hill & Knowlton added to its operations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou when it launched an office in Chengdu, a major city in western China that the agency considers to be a region ripe for economic growth.
During that same time period, the company expanded its presence into Africa, another region the firm considers an emerging market, by establishing a joint venture with holding company Scangroup Limited. The joint venture, Hill & Knowlton East Africa Ltd, offers public relations expertise throughout Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Hill & Knowlton was acquired by WPP Group in 1987 through the purchase of J. Walter Thompson (now JWT). Hill & Knowlton was founded in 1927.