PMK-BNC Head Nyman: Defections ‘Sad, Not Unexpected’

PMK and BNC merge, will start up Jan. 1 — but with fewer clients and publicists

Last Updated: December 15, 2009 @ 6:35 PM

For a week, it was the worst kept secret in Hollywood. On Tuesday it became official.

A full seven days after confirmed reports not just of a merger but of a fallout, PR firms PMK/HBH and BNC announced on Tuesday that they will be joining forces as of Jan. 1.

Michael Nyman, the CEO of the new firm, told TheWrap that the bad buzz surrounding a series of high-profile defections ignored the fact that by pooling their resources, the two PR firms had strengthened their ties to the corporate, entertainment, and events sponsorship businesses.

"In terms of people leaving the company, I would say it was sad, but not unexpected," Nyman said. "When we decided go and do this, we realized that there might be folks who would not get it, but there are many that respected the decision and stayed. We made this decision with company’s interest and our client’s interests in mind, not any one individual."

In the wake of BNC’s consumation of its courtship of PMK, Nyman decided to accentuate the positive.

"With regard to some of the clients that have left with publicists, that’s been disappointing, but it’s the nature of the beast," Nyman added. "But we’re in good shape and we feel jazzed about this."

The new firm  will have offices in Los Angeles and New York, where it expects to field a staff of 100 and 50 people respectively. PMK’s brand name and long history in Hollywood were particularly attractive to BNC, which believed that the firm, the creation of legendary publicist Pat Kingsley, had stronger ties to the entertainment industry whereas BNC had deeper connections to the corporate and marketing worlds.

"The single strongest feeling I have is that we are at the start of something special here,"Nyman said. "It’s not an ending point. It’s a beginning. We feel privileged and proud to be at beginning point with our combined resources and a great roster or publicists and clients."

Though the merger was first reported Dec. 8. and picked up by various other entertainment publications, Nyman said that he and his team did not feel pressured to push up their announcement of a deal.

"We didn’t make the announcement last week, even though you guys had stuff and Deadline had stuff, because Cindy [Berger], Chris [Robichaud ], and I wanted to spend a lot of time with people, working with them to understand what this was about, what the future holds, and let our clients know," Nyman said. "Despite the fact that it was being reported, we decided to stick to our guns and announce it officially this week, as we had planned. We are thrilled with the news, and we’re focused now on disseminating it in a manner that’s transparent, and shows unity, which is what this company is about."

In addition to Nyman (top left), the leadership of the new firm will consist of president/chief operating officer Chris Robichaud (right) and current PMK/HBH co-CEO Cindi Berger (above left).
As chairman-CEO, Nyman will oversee the combined company.
Berger, also chairman and CEO, will focus on the entertainment and media relations portion of the business.
Robichaud, as CEO, will oversee operations and the consumer brand marketing.
Brad Cafarelli, who was a co-founder of BNC, becomes vice chairman.
Almost immediately following reports of a merger, defections from PMK/HBH began, starting with Stephen Huvane, Robin Baum and Andy Gelb, who split to join a new venture with fellow PR vet Ina Treciokas.
By the end of the following day, CEO Simon Halls, Melissa Kates and Jennifer Allen also had bolted.
Gone with them: a slew of high-profile celebrity clients – including Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Jennifer Aniston, Daniel Craig, Anne Hathaway, Ridley Scott, Sam Mendes, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Christian Bale.