Gary Grates, the former head of North American corporate communications at General Motors, has joined WCGC, the San Francisco-based marketing and communications firm.
Grates is tasked with helping the firm launch a new corporate practice and diversify beyond its core healthcare-focused client base, said WCGC founder and CEO Jim Weiss. Clients include Pfizer, Medtronic and Cadence Pharmaceuticals.
Most recently, Grates was at PR firm Edelman, where he set up and ran the shop’s subsidiary Edelman Change and Employee Engagement as president and global managing director. Before that, from 2002 to 2005 that he ran GM’s North American corporate communications operation.
To begin, Grates won’t have a title, other than member of the leadership team. “We’re not big into pigeonholing people into titles,” said Weiss.
Weiss said Grates is a “game changing hire for the firm. He compliments and enhances what our team offers today,” which is heavily focused on social media and digital expertise. At the same time, Grates brings “a valuable new set of skills and services that clients are demanding today,” notably corporate counsel and "change management" skills.
Weiss founded WCGC in San Francisco 11 years ago. The firm now has 300 employees in six offices, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin and London. Capabilities include branding, design, digital and traditional marketing, corporate and product PR, media, investor and advocacy relations, clinical trial recruitment and grassroots direct-to-patient communications campaigns.