Major Meltdown at PMK/HBH

Fallout from merger with BNC has a number of the firm’s top publicists bailing

Last Updated: December 9, 2009 @ 7:08 PM

The mass exodus at PMK/HBH in the wake of its plans to merge with BNC is getting out of hand.

First it was Stephen Huvane, Robin Baum and Andy Gelb, who split to join a new venture with fellow PR vet Ina Treciokas on Wednesday. By the end of the day, CEO Simon Halls, Melissa Kates and Jennifer Allen had also bolted.

Gone with them: A slew of high-profile celebrity clients, leaving PMK/HBH a shell of its former A-list heavy self in the matter of a day.

Huvane, Baum and Gelb defected this week when the PR powerhouse announced it was merging with the more corporate-focused BNC, and will join Treciokas as equal partners in a new shop they’re calling Slate PR.

"We thrive in smaller, more focused environments," Huvane (at left with Jennifer Aniston) told TheWrap in a conference call with Treciokas and Gelb (below). "(The merger) is what got us out the door."

Huvane and Gelb say that along with Baum they’re taking virtually all of their clients over to the new venture. Combining their rosters — rich with A-list actors, directors and writers — with Treciokas’ gives them a potent list; Gelb, who’s more of an events guru, will give the new shop some breadth in that space.

Huvane’s clients include Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway and Kirsten Dunst; Treciokas represents Katie Holmes, Hugh Laurie, Jon Favreau and others; and Baum brings Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Daniel Craig, among others.

Also joining Slate PR are New York-based Erica Gray, who was recently promoted from publicist to vice president at PMK/HBH; and Shawn Purdy, another PMK/HBH defector, who will focus on events. Gray and Purdy will work from the new firm’s Gotham office.

Huvane and Gelb said there was no drama in their departure from PMK/HBH, and that the decision to join Treciokas was an easy one.

"We’ve known and loved Ina for a long, long time," Huvane said.

More to come …