Inside five big showbiz PR shops

PMK/HBH

Parent company: InterPublic Group

Principals: Pat Kingsley (chairman, CEO); Simon Halls (partner); Stephen Huvane (partner); Robin Baum (partner)

Key clients: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Cameron Crowe, Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ang Lee, Michael Mann, Jude Law

Backstory: Since old-school shop PMK (established 1978) and relative newcomer HBH (1995) merged in 2001, the agency has proven adept at shifting with the times while remaining true to its entertainment roots. And with annual billings of $15 million, a staff of 105 split between New York and Los Angeles and more than 500 clients, the balancing act seems to be working. The recent firing of longtime exec Leslee Dart resulted in a storm of publicity and some client departures — Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer among them — but little else.

Quotable: “We’re very concerned with integrity and doing good work,” says Halls. “There’s so much economic pressure on films to do well today, so that’s why we train our people to do the best jobs they can in the most strategic manner possible. We’re very much part of that marketing mix.”

Bragman Nyman Cafarelli

Parent company: InterPublic Group

Principals: Michael Nyman (chairman and CEO); Chris Robichaud (president and COO); Brad Cafarelli (vice chairman); Helene Jaysen (executive VP)

Key clients: Cameron Diaz, Jimmy Kimmel, Kate Hudson, Jessica Simpson, Whoopi Goldberg, Endemol Entertainment, Sony PlayStation, American Express, T-Mobile, Jordan (division of Nike)

Backstory: The agency’s 120-person staff, working from offices in New York and Los Angeles, handles both celebrity clients and corporate sponsors seeking to utilize their star power. Firm principals say they’re not shy about pursuing non-traditional opportunities while also fulfilling time-tested publicist duties.

Quotable: “We’ve been working closely with brand marketers for years, but at same time we’re still entertainment insiders,” says Robichaud. “We’re able to bridge the gap, and operate in those two worlds.”

Baker/Winokur/Ryder

Parent company: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Principals: Paul Baker (founding partner); Nanci Ryder (founding partner); Larry Winokur (founding partner); Leslie Sloan (managing director-talent); Cindy Guagenti (managing director-talent); Matt Labov (managing director-talent)

Key clients: Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellwegger, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell, Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Revlon, Volkswagen

Backstory: The 90-person shop with 200-plus clients and annual billings north of $10 million is known for handling some of the top comedy talent in Hollywood. The firm also prides itself on being more than just a talent-driven business, evidenced by its just-launched PPI division, which specializes in product placement, promotion and integration into youth markets. Notably, Baker, Ryder and Winokur each just reupped for three more years with Ogilvy.

Quotable: “We moved away from a pure talent model several years ago, and I think we were ahead of the curve,” says Winokur. “We’re more of a horizontal business today. We’re a big consumer/entertainment agency with many dimensions.”

Rogers & Cowan

Parent company: InterPublic Group

Principals: Tom Tardio (CEO); Paul Block (co-chairman)

Key Clients: Mel Gibson, Jamie Foxx, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, EA Sports, NASCAR, Napster, Lions Gate

Backstory: Tom Tardio likes to say that his agency is more than 50 years old — and 15 years new. One of the most storied shops in entertainment, Rogers & Cowen was also one of the first to explore the possibilities beyond personal publicity. Co-founded by Hollywood PR legend Warren Cowan, the agency today uses its entertainment base as a launching pad for promo-tions, product placement and marketing for corporate and consumer goods and services.

Quotable: “Our aim is to be a broad and diversified agency, but our intent is to stay at the intersection of entertainment, consumer and corporate culture,” Tardio says.

Edelman

Principals: Dan Edelman (chairman); Richard Edelman (president, CEO); Ferris Thompson (president, Edelman Entertainment Marketing)

Parent company: None

Key clients: DreamWorks, Sony, Country Music Awards, History Channel, Microsoft, Nissan, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever

Backstory: Edelman may not represent a roster of A-list stars — or any celebs at all, for that matter — but the independent PR agency is very much a Hollywood player. The giant shop (40 offices worldwide, $222 million in annual billings) features an entertainment marketing division that concentrates on building relationships and finding opportunities for corporate clients with the people who make movies, music, television and video games. The firm offers everything from product placement to straight-forward press releases.

Quotable: “It’s really about finding that idea that travels across multiple media,” Thompson says. “It may be an idea that starts as a TV show, then finds it way to retail, into the press, creates buzz on internet and lends itself to other partnerships.”

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