HB/EMA Boston Welcomes Three Agencies to Global PR Network

NEWTON, Mass. – March 8, 2016: HB/Eric Mower + Associates, an integrated marketing firm and member of IPREX, the worldwide network of public relations and communications agencies, expands its network by welcoming three new partners: Iris Public Relations in the Middle East, SPM Communications in Texas and Walt & Company in Silicon Valley.

IPREX is a global communications network of more than 70 agencies around the world, recognized as one of the leading networks of independent communication agencies in the world.

Founded in 2009, Iris PR focuses on strategy, innovation and accountable delivery. Combined with its expertise in digital media and corporate social responsibility, this approach has earned the firm clients from a range of B2B and B2C industries including business services, aviation, consumer electronics and retail.

Founded in 1999, Dallas-based SPM Communications, which also has an office in Austin, is top-ranked in Texas in the food/beverage specialty by O’Dwyer’s and in the top 20 nationally. The agency promotes and protects iconic food, restaurant, retail and franchise brands through public and media relations, social media strategy and crisis management. The SPM team is a cross-trained group of former newspaper reporters and TV journalists, social media strategists, nutritionists and corporate communications experts.

Founded by ex-Ketchum Silicon Valley chief Robert Walt in 1991, Walt & Company has created a highly successful operation model based on building marketplace value for its clients. From traditional media relations to high-profile events to cutting-edge digital, Walt & Company’s brand, product and technology programs advance business objectives, sustain market visibility and deliver results for clients including Epson America, D-Link and Ensono.

As the IPREX network expands, HB/EMA Boston continues to strengthen its existing team of professionals by collaborating with partners to deliver deep knowledge, best practices and market insight into global markets for clients.

For more information about IPREX, please visit www.iprex.com.



IPREX is a $250 million network of communication agencies, with 1,800 staff and 115 offices worldwide working across the spectrum of industry sectors and practice disciplines.

About HB/Eric Mower + Associates

Eric Mower + Associates is a digitally-integrated independent marketing and public relations agency. With more than 250 professionals in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, N.Y.; New York City; Boston; Cincinnati; Charlotte, N.C.; and Atlanta, EMA delivers strategic insights, digital solutions, smart creative, and award-winning results to clients. Part of two global agency networks—thenetworkone and IPREX—as well as the 4A’s, EMA has estimated 2015 capitalized billings approaching $250.

HB/EMA Boston
Mark O’Toole

Exploring Business Opportunities in Cuba

We’ve launched a new thought leadership series with our IPREX partners called Global Perspectives. Each month we will look at a global issue and share our perspective on the business implications and communications challenges involved with the selected topic.

Our first Global Perspectives tackles the changes in Cuba.

Read below for thoughts on doing business into Cuba from IPREX partners around the world.









BEIJING  “Closer economic ties between Cuba and the U.S. are to be welcomed, especially as global trading patterns are evolving and becoming much more multilateral. Chinese trade with Latin America has grown rapidly in recent years, surpassing US $258 billion in 2014.

“China is the second-largest trading partner of many countries including Argentina and Cuba, and a primary source of credit. That is a massive change from 1990s, when China ranked just 17th on the list of Latin American export destinations.”  Maggie Chan, Director, Greater China, Newell PR


BERLIN – “Cuba is a country in transition – that is the impression of two ORCA executives who travelled the country in October and December 2015. A number of small but profound changes are transforming everyday life on the Caribbean island. Small business is gaining ground, Cubans are becoming private employers, and tourism is booming; new resorts are popping up on wonderful beaches. The run on the Cuban market has already begun.

“The German Vice Chancellor recently visited the island, accompanied by a business delegation 60-strong, with the aim to boost economic cooperation. He emphasized that “German firms can offer Cuba very good solutions, particularly in the fields of energy, health, machinery and plant engineering.” As specialists in public diplomacy, we can assist with these development opportunities.  Michael T. Schröder, Managing Director, ORCA Affairs



DALLAS  “While U.S. restrictions have eased for certain industries, it is only the first step on a much longer road to normalized U.S.-Cuba relations. There are still strict regulations regarding how U.S. businesses must operate in Cuba.

“It is important that businesses beginning to serve the Cuban marketplace choose a partner that understands the complexities of a market that has been off-limits to Americans for 50 years.” Jody Venturoni, Partner, LDWWgroup


FORT LAUDERDALE  “How to do business with Cuba is a major topic of interest in South Florida, where conversations are happening between Cuban and American entrepreneurs.  While the Castro dictatorship understandably remains a source of outrage for Cuban-Americans and others, President Obama’s reopening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and allowing certain types of trade has generated tremendous interest in the business community.

“Cuba’s potential for airlines, cruise lines, hotels and other travel-related companies is obvious, but will not be realized until the embargo is lifted. Meanwhile, companies of all sizes should focus on cultural exchange and philanthropic work to build the relationships and brand recognition they will need when trade barriers are removed.” Jane Grant, President, Pierson Grant Public Relations



MADRID – “Cuba is still a very special economy with two currencies. A gigantic state apparatus controls the commercial activity with a bureaucracy typical of a country that is not democratic. Therefore, any company that wants to invest there must keep in mind some peculiarities.

“Cuba is a country where market prices are imposed, free competition does not exist and tariffs are not the same for everything, even if the imported product is the same. Additionally, the only source of news is the government. Cuba will be a good country in which to invest, but not yet.” Mayte González-­Gil, CEO, poweraxle and IPREX EMEA President


MEXICO CITY  “The relaunch of relations between Mexico and Cuba is related to the deepening project of updating the economic and social model driven by President Raul Castro in his country. During May 2014, a Mexican business mission formed by 68 Mexican businessmen representing 48 companies took place. This is a clear sign that opportunities are coming.”Horacio Loyo Gris, Co-Founder, Dextera Comunicación



NEW YORK  “The richness and worldwide popularity of Cuban music begs interesting business opportunities that may be had by activating and empowering the island’s wide array of talent and intellectual property in the field.

“Exploring partnerships with U.S. brands and makers of musical instruments and pro audio equipment, U.S. agencies may be able to enter Cuban markets and in turn capitalize on the opportunities to produce, promote and help develop Cuban artists in a worldwide stage, also using them for marketing, PR campaigns and content, much like Win Wenders and co. did with the Buena Vista Social Club, minus all the trade restriction headaches he endured at the time!”  Raul Gonzalez, Director, RGAA PR, a partially-owned subsidiary of French/West/Vaughan


SAN FRANCISCO  “Cuba is a long way from becoming a priority consumer market for U.S. companies. Most Cubans make an average of $20 per month. Other emerging markets with an established middle class offer opportunities to U.S. companies without as much uncertainty. However, one of the biggest opportunities for U.S. companies is in the Cuban travel sector. European and Canadian hotels have been doing business in Cuba for years.

“Given its geographic location, U.S. travel would benefit from entering the Cuban market. U.S. companies entering the Cuban market will have a need in Cuba for public affairs, employee recruitment and employee communications. These U.S. companies will also have a need for issues management here in the U.S., as some opposition remains (among Cuban-Americans) toward U.S. companies doing business in Cuba.”  Juan F. Lezama, Director, Mosaico, the Latino Division of Fineman PR

Read more perspectives in IPREX Voices: http://www.iprex.com/iprexvoices/

Sip & Share: Tunheim

sip_share_logo_finalLast month my colleague Chuck Tanowitz and I had the opportunity to visit our friends at Tunheim in Minneapolis. We toured their beautiful office, enjoyed appetizers and cocktails, learned more about each agency and discussed industry trends. After our visit, Liz Tunheim Sheets and I reconnected to continue our conversation.

HB Agency: What’s life like at Tunheim?

Liz Tunheim Sheets: Tunheim is a communications consultancy. We have 20 full-time employees with at least that many of what we call ACEs – affiliated consultants and experts – and on any given day some semblance of our employees and ACEs are working in our office. When we renovated in 2013, we aimed to make our space open and modular so our talent can work however helps them be most productive. We also have a very open policy on remote working and continually remind staff that it is about getting work done and not whether they are present at their desk. That probably doesn’t work for everyone, but I think for our team it shows that leadership trusts staff to make good decisions and that not everyone gets work done the same way. I personally think it is a great thing about our culture because it really promotes getting the work done.

Tunheim is a very familial environment. It is a place where people feel empowered, trusted by their colleagues and generally like working and being together. Simple example: We built a large harvest table in our kitchen because our team likes to eat lunch together and we often do potlucks and happy hours here. After people leave, we hear that they miss the Tunheim “family.” It is why our Twitter handle is @TeamTunheim.


We live by and promote a talent philosophy we call “Collective Best.” Led by Kathy Tunheim and her many years of experience as a Honeywell executive, we don’t feel the need to own all our talent, but we want access to the right talent when their expertise is essential to our client needs. This is part of why we joined IPREX. We always want our clients to feel like Tunheim delivered on their needs.

HB: Can you tell me a little more about your role at the agency?

LTS: My role has shifted since I joined Tunheim in 2012. I was brought to Tunheim to lead and build out our digital and social offering. At first that meant I was solely focused on digital and social work, but client needs have shifted and we really believe clients should have an integrated communications approach so our digital and social media work is usually integrated with our other service offerings. Not always, but that is the advice we bring to our clients. Our digital team—three of us—is typically pulled in when there is any digital implication to consider. We do a lot of the work in-house because we have a strong talent bench in the space, but we often partner with other firms or freelancers when additional expertise or skills will amplify our product. Sheets2-533x800

HB: Who is Tunheim’s target client? What kind of organizations do you work with?

LTS: We work with all kinds of clients. We’ve moved away from industry focuses because our value proposition is really more impactful in what the client is facing. The world is changing faster than fast and Tunheim helps its clients rethink. Whether the client is navigating complex change, wanting to take responsibility for being understood by its stakeholders or earn the reputation it deserves, we partner with our clients to bring the insight and strategy they need to make impactful decisions for their business. We know clients make good decisions when they have the right information and so we aim to give critical and honest advice. We still do a lot of execution – content creation, media relations, social media relations, etc. – for our clients, but how projects start has shifted in the last few years.

We work with a lot of corporations and foundations/non-profits. We do also have a large public affairs team and have built a strong specialty navigating the complex intersection of public policy, stakeholders, media and decision-makers, including coalition building.

HB: Talk about your transition from a “traditional communications agency” to a strategic consulting firm. How has your business changed since the transition?

LTS: Tunheim began as a communications consultancy 25 years ago. Our work has shifted over the years based on client needs, but we’ve organically seen the work we’re doing shift back to consulting. Clients come to Tunheim for all kinds of communications help, but when we’re honest about our core capabilities, we know our team has the experience and expertise to help our clients rethink and solve business problems.

With this shift we’ve moved toward more large projects and less retainers. We’ve collapsed our hierarchy and adjusted our roles and responsibilities to create less hierarchy and more autonomy for our team.

We also no longer have managers but rather coaches, which is intended to empower employees to make decisions and increase their ability to think critically.

In 2014 we re-worked our roles and responsibilities to have only two levels for full-time staff: Consultant and senior consultant. There are a few people with additional responsibilities, like Kathy Tunheim (CEO + Principal), Pat Milan (Chief Creative Officer, sometimes called our Chief Destruction Officer) and Lindsay Treichel (Chief Transformation Officer). The level change has taken some getting used to I think but represents a change in how we approach our work. No longer do we see ourselves as an agency to execute client projects, but rather as consultants who help our client rethink and solve problems.

HB: One of your offerings is sports marketing which I don’t think many IPREX partners offer. Can you talk more about that service and what makes it unique?

LTS: We have a long, long history in this space and in a lot of different ways. We’ve worked in a lot of sports from racing to baseball to soccer to stadiums to football – you name it, someone on our team has worked on it. The type of work ranges too from business consulting to publicity to sponsorship activation, to grassroots campaigns for stadium support to what we’re doing a lot of right now which is bid management. Minnesota has a few beautiful, new stadiums, including the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which is currently still under construction. We’ve partnered with the bid committees here to bring the bids to life for the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and College Football Championships, mostly led by one of our ACEs who has incredible experience in the space. And we just announced that we’ve been selected by Copper Peak to help the U.S. secure international ski competitions.

HB: Can you tell us a little more about the ACE Program?

LTS: Back to the “collective best” model mentioned above, we enacted ACEs early on so we could have access to the best talent all the time – many times really specialized or experienced talent that we don’t have projects for all the time but who bring a unique point of view to the work we do for clients. We have quite a few ACEs who are highly respected, have their own consulting practices and who are proud to be part of the greater Tunheim team. We also have ACEs who bring our team skills that we need, but they get the flexibility to work on projects outside our walls, too. It is a win-win. Our roster of past ACEs is really impressive and it connects Tunheim to another sphere of talent that we can access for our clients.

HB: In honor of this series, what’s your go-to beverage in the evening as you’re wrapping up the day in the office and mingling with colleagues?

LTS: Definitely wine. We have four seasons here so my go-to choice changes based on our weather, but my current go-to are dry French rosés.