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H&K Appoints Strategy Director

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Pestana is coordinating efforts among PR firm's divisions

Hill & Knowlton is making an effort to spread best practices across its network through the creation of a new post, director of strategic services.

Ruth Pestana, 33, is working with about 10 client relationship managers at H&K offices across the country in an attempt to bring an outside perspective to their strategic-planning efforts and to look for ways the WPP Group public relations shop's practices can help each other. Practices include corporate, public affairs and financial.

Pestana reports to MaryLee Sachs, president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton USA. Pestana took the position after a yearlong stint with the agency as part of the WPP MBA Fellows program. She received her M.B.A. from the London Business School in 1999.

During the past year, she worked with H&K's global corporate group and is credited with playing a key role in creating a new brand identity for the firm earlier this year, as well as in winning Hewlett-Packard's PR account late last year, Sachs said.

"She basically orchestrated everything [behind the brand-identity launch], managing the top echelons at Hill & Knowlton," said Sachs, who described Pestana as well organized and "mature beyond her years."

Sachs said Pestana will position H&K to win new business. "We're not seeing signs of a big upturn in the economy yet, but we want to be ready to expand our business base when it does turn around," she said.

Pestana is also addressing how H&K measures results, part of an industry move to justify PR work beyond news clippings. "It's a hot topic in PR right now, but it can be taken a notch further," Pestana said.

A native of Perth, Australia, Pestana was a consultant for Omnicom's Interbrand in Singapore before moving to London.