In 1956, GolinHarris opened its doors in Chicago when our founder, Al Golin, made a cold call to an aspiring businessman with a couple of hamburger stands. That fledgling restaurant chain has grown to be one of the world’s most admired brands. That man was Ray Kroc, and his business, McDonald’s, remains one of our agency’s largest clients.
GolinHarris’ Historical Timeline
Al Golin begins his public relations career as a field press representative with MGM Studios, where he covered offices from Cleveland, Ohio, to Omaha, Nebraska, and just about everything in between.
Al joins Max Cooper & Associates. The staff was six and at that time, the practice of public relations was essentially a publicity function.
Al places a cold call to Ray Kroc, founder of the then-fledgling McDonald’s hamburger chain. As a result of this call, Mr. Kroc asked Al to come over and meet with him. An hour later, Al began working for McDonald’s for a retainer of $500 a month. More than 50 years later, GolinHarris is still working for McDonald’s, but Al admits, “The monthly retainer is a bit more than $500.”
Max Cooper & Associates is renamed Cooper, Burns & Golin as Al is named a full-fledged partner and Ben Burns joins the firm. Burns background was journalism. He launched Ebony magazine with publisher John Johnson and was the publication’s first editor.
Cooper, Burns & Golin moves into offices at 360 North Michigan Avenue.
Ben Burns leaves firm, which is renamed Cooper & Golin, to become a full-time author.
Cooper & Golin opens its first offices in San Francisco.
Cooper & Golin opens its first office in London.
McDonald’s celebrates its 15th anniversary and its 12-year partnership with Cooper & Golin. It was during the early 70′s that Al and Ray Kroc developed the concept of the TrustBank.
Al commissions Norman Rockwell to paint the McDonald’s annual report cover art.
Max Cooper leaves to become a full-time McDonald’s franchise and pursue his hobby of producing Broadway musicals. The firm is renamed Golin Communications.
Golin Communications creates the first corporate sponsorship of a national telethon by signing on with Jerry Lewis and his annual muscular dystrophy telethon.
The firm is re-named Golin/Harris Communications to reflect the significant contributions of Tom Harris.
Expansion beyond Chicago is furthered by the agency’s acquisition by Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB).
Golin/Harris’ first office in New York opens and Golin/Harris takes over management of the public relations offices in Philadelphia and London owned by FCB.
Golin/Harris is acquired by Shandwick International.
Tom Harris retires from the firm to teach courses in public relations and integrated marketing at Northwestern University, and write books about marketing and public relations.
To salute the man who helped make community services part of the McDonald’s way of life, McDonald’s establishes the “Al Golin TrustBank Award” and makes Al the first recipient. It is to be given annually to one of McDonald’s worldwide public relations firms that best reflect Al’s commitment to community service.
Golin/Harris is named “Agency of the Year” by Inside PR.
Golin/Harris relocates its corporate headquarters from 500 North Michigan to 111 East Wacker Drive.
Golin/Harris Communications is acquired by the Interpublic Group of Companies and renamed Golin/Harris International.
Golin/Harris begins its expansion into Asia by opening the Tokyo and Hong Kong offices.
Golin/Harris merges with The Nixon Group and subsequently creates a presence in Miami, FL.
Al Golin publishes his first book, “Trust or Consequences: Build Trust Today or Lose Your Market Tomorrow.” Al embarks on a worldwide tour speaking to various industry groups in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Merges with the Benjamin Group and opens an office in Orange County. Merges with the Weber Group in London expanding the already existing team and capabilities. Expands in Europe with new locations in Brussels, Geneva, Madrid, Milan, Paris and The Hague.
Golin/Harris expands its presence in Greater China by opening offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Begins a re-branding initiative, introducing a new brand identity and a revised brand name – GolinHarris. Launches two key specialty practices – Change (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Insidedge (Employee Communications).
McDonald’s, a client of 48 years, honors its partnership with GolinHarris by naming an award after Founder Al Golin. The Al Golin Public Relations Award of Excellence will be presented annually to the McDonald’s franchisee and/or organization that best exemplifies the commitment of building trust through community involvement.
GolinHarris kicks off its 50th anniversary year.
GolinHarris named Agency of the Year 2007 by The Holmes Report and Large Agency of the Year 2007 by PRWeek Awards. Launches GeoImpact, Sustainability Practice.
GolinHarris honored as one of the best companies to work for in: Atlanta, Chicago, London and Miami by Atlanta Business Chornicle, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Sunday Times and the South Florida Business Journal. Establishes two new offices: Jeddah and Stockholm. Named International PR Consultancy of the Year by CIPR. Expands presence in Europe with addition of Paris office.
Octagon Marketing and GolinHarris create Octagon PR. Hong Kong named PR Consultancy of the Year. Publishes Get Real: 12 Steps to Authenticity.
GolinHarris named 2010 PRWeek Large PR Agency of the Year. Launches the Gold Standard in client service and Brand Story.
GolinHarris named Holmes Report Best Large Agency to Work For 2011, Ad Age Agency A-List Agency to Watch and PR Consultancy of the Year by the Asia Pacific PR Awards. GolinHarris opens an office in Bucharest, Romania. Launches Agency for the Future initiative. Interpublic acquires majority control of S2Publicom, ranked among the top five public relations firms in Brazil, with offices in São Paulo Rio de Janeiro.
GolinHarris named PRWeek International Consultancy of the Year, PRCA Large Consultancy of the Year and a Gold Medal Winner in the PRWeek Global Agency Report. Interpublic acquires Nicole Weber Communications (NWC), a leading consumer lifestyle agency with offices in Hamburg and Munich; FUSE, a digital and interactive agency based in the UK; and Virgo Health, an award-winning independent UK healthcare communications firm. All three agencies become part of the GolinHarris network. In addition, Virgo Health and FUSE partnered for form a new, digitally focused specialty health practice called Go Digital Health. GolinHarris celebrates two client milestones: 55 years with McDonald’s and 20 years with Nintendo. The Bridge is named PR Innovation of the Year by PRWeek and the Holmes Report.
GolinHarris named Agency of the Year a record eight times: Agency of the Year – Americas, Large Agency of the Year, UK Consultancy of the Year and Healthcare Consultancy of the Year by The Holmes Report; Large Consultancy of the Year and Consultancy of the Year by PRWeek UK; Large Firm of the Year by PR News; and Consumer PR Agency of the Year by The Grocer Awards. Al Golin is inducted in PRWeek’s inaugural PR Hall of Fame. Agency expands global reach and capabilities in key markets: adding five new offices in India through a joint venture with LinOpinion, an office in Milan through a partnership with DraftFCB and expanded capabilities in China through a strategic partnership with award-winning agency, Magic. GH continues to be recognized as an innovator: The Bright Collective receives honorable mention in the PR Product of the Year category at the 2013 PRWeek Awards. The DeltaSet wins an IN2 SABRE award in the Agency Insights Product or Service category and is a finalist for the US 2014 PRWeek Awards in the PR Product/Service of the Year category.