Citizen Relations hires Josh Budd as CCO

PR firm Citizen Relations has announced the hire of its first-ever chief creative officer, as it embarks on what it describes as “an exciting time of growth and momentum.”

Josh Budd will oversee creative for the Vision7 network’s seven offices in Canada and the U.S., and also joins the agency’s global executive team. Most recently chief creative officer for No Fixed Address, Budd’s career has included creative roles with J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett and Cossette.

His work has been recognized at the One Show, Andy’s, ADC’s, Ad Age Awards, Clios, Cannes, Effies, D&AD’s, and has also received PR-specific accolades from the global and North American Sabres, PR Week and the Clios.

Citizen began looking for a CCO late last year, and Budd was a “perfect candidate” because he shared in the belief that Citizen should be a creative organization, not a PR organization with a creative department, said president Nick Cowling.

“Great creatives are hard to find, and we certainly looked at a number of people, but I’m thrilled that someone of Josh’s calibre was interested in Citizen—not because of our brand, but because we’re a PR agency,” said Cowling. “There are lots of great creative agencies to choose from, and I’m sure many would be thrilled to have a talent like him.”

Budd will continue to build out the agency’s creative capabilities around skillsets like copywriting, design and art direction, but also determine how the entire agency approaches creativity, said Cowling.

Budd’s hire is reflective of Citizen’s mission statement to “make every conversation count,” a positioning it adopted in April of 2020. “It’s conversations that drive a change in attitude and generate action… Fact is, conversations happen because great storytelling warrants discussion and debate,” he said.

“Josh’s experience and his approach make him more than capable of leading the agency’s creative product to ensure we’re developing those great stories, but it’s his natural leadership and keen understanding of our future opportunity that impressed me beyond my expectations.”

The hire is part of a broader transformation within the PR world that is seeing agencies evolve into more rounded communications shops. Earlier this year, for example, Edelman launched a Toronto-based “creative hub” led by acclaimed creative Judy John.

“It’s an exciting time to lean into the ever-blurring lines within the marketing mix, and I’m fortunate to join a team leading that charge,” said Budd of the changes occurring within the industry. “While there’s tremendous talent in the halls, I’m more impressed by the tremendous humanity evident in the organization’s handling of the last 12-plus months.”

Chris Powell