OTTAWA, ON – August 17, 2012 – Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada (H+K), the country’s top-rated public relations and public affairs firm, today announced that it has acquired the assets of Ottawa-based Ascentum Inc. (Ascentum).  Ascentum specializes in helping businesses, government and not-for-profit organizations facilitate and create dialogue with stakeholders via online, in-person and social media-based strategies and tools.

As a result of this transaction, Ascentum’s operation will merge into H+K’s Ottawa office, forming H+K’s new public engagement group. This group will work with existing and new clients to develop informed participation campaigns.

“The public now expects to be involved in the issues that impact them and this has profound implications for business and government,” said Mike Coates, president and CEO of H+K Canada. “Adding Ascentum to the H+K family creates new opportunities for growth in the emerging, but important, sector of public engagement. Ascentum’s expertise and tools, coupled with our proven track record in stakeholder relations and our digital capabilities and national and international network, is completely unique in the Canadian marketplace.”

Joe Peters and Rob Mariani founded Ascentum in 2003 with a focus on public participation, stakeholder and community relations and employee engagement. Ascentum has developed unique expertise and proprietary tools as part of its consulting services to a range of industries in the private and public sectors. The International Association of Public Participation has recognized and awarded Ascentum for its innovation and project excellence.

“With the addition of Ascentum and the recent expansion of digital program design including web and application design and development services, we now offer everything clients need to discover, create and – above all – connect with stakeholders, communities and customers on the social web and beyond,” said Boyd Neil, national practice leader for social media and digital communications at H+K.

“H+K is an outstanding fit for us, both strategically and culturally,” said Peters. “We share the same vision, interest in our people and passion for results. The move to join H+K is all about extending our reach, adding new services and practices for our clients and giving our people more opportunities for growth.”

The integration of Ascentum into H+K is effective immediately, with services rolling out in the weeks to come. Peters will become the deputy social media and digital communications practice leader, reporting to Neil.  Mariani will lead the new public engagement group at H+K, reporting to Goldy Hyder, general manager of the Ottawa office.

About Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada
With nine offices across the country, Hill+Knowlton Strategies is a leader in both PR and public affairs. The company is the No. 1-rated strategic communications firm in Canada. It specializes in corporate communications, public affairs, marketing communications, crisis, energy, technology, health care, digital communications, financial communications and transactions. The only communications firm to have earned the Order of Excellence from Excellence Canada, it is also recognized as one of the 2012 Best Workplaces in Canada. Its parent company, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Inc., has 86 offices in 47 countries as well as an extensive associate network and is a member of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s largest communications services groups.

About Ascentum Inc.

Ascentum Inc. (Ascentum) is a full service consultancy that provides excellence and innovation in public engagement through their unique mix of professional and technology services.  Based in Ottawa, Ascentum has developed an extensive relationship with their government, business and not-for-profit clients, empowering them to make sustainable decisions on complex issues.  Ascentum’s work has been recognized and awarded by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) in the categories of “Innovation Using Technology” and “Project of the Year”.