MARKET FOCUS: NEW ENGLAND - Hi-tech spreads throughout historic New England. Boston still rules the New England PR scene, but - with the tech craze - outlying agencies are starting to expand. Rebecca Flass reports

Historic New England enjoys a healthy and diverse economy, but that economy is not so historic. Much of the hi-tech excitement in Boston and Cambridge has seeped out into the rest of the region. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are well known for tourism, but Portsmouth, NH is now called the e-coast and Stamford, CT is known as the Silicon Suburbs.

Historic New England enjoys a healthy and diverse economy, but that economy is not so historic. Much of the hi-tech excitement in Boston and Cambridge has seeped out into the rest of the region. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are well known for tourism, but Portsmouth, NH is now called the e-coast and Stamford, CT is known as the Silicon Suburbs.

Historic New England enjoys a healthy and diverse economy, but that

economy is not so historic. Much of the hi-tech excitement in Boston and

Cambridge has seeped out into the rest of the region. Maine, Vermont and

New Hampshire are well known for tourism, but Portsmouth, NH is now

called the e-coast and Stamford, CT is known as the Silicon Suburbs.



Boston has gained a reputation as the number-two technology hub in the

US, and many area PR agencies have ridden its coattails to gain fame and

financial success. But companies looking for a better quality of life

for employees, as well as reduced real estate costs, have grown up

outside Boston’s borders. This is having a profound impact on smaller

agencies in other parts of New England.



Massachusetts is home to hi-tech heavy hitters such as EMC and Lotus

Development, as well as newer dot-coms like Monster.com. The state also

has financial companies like Fleet Boston, insurance firms Liberty

Mutual and John Hancock, and major consumer players Gillette and

Polaroid.



Connecticut is headquarters to Xerox, GE Capital, GartnerGroup, Conair,

Playtex and Priceline.com. In Maine, there’s a mix of companies like

L.L. Bean, Hannaford Brothers and National Semiconductor, while Rhode

Island boasts lottery and gaming company Gtech, Citizens Financial Group

and CVS. New Hampshire and Vermont have spawned several successful

businesses built on the ideals of the states, such as Timberland in New

Hampshire and Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s, which recently announced it

would be acquired by Unilever, but is attempting to maintain its

socially conscious values.



Despite an increase in the number of technology companies in New

England, not every agency reaped the benefits, although most hi-tech

firms fared significantly better than generalist and consumer PR

agencies over the past year. Compared to a national average of 30%

growth in 1999, according to PRWeek’s agency rankings, the New England

agencies that provided numbers did slightly better, growing 35%.

Nineteen of the top 20 agencies in New England are in Massachusetts, and

eight of the top 10 are in hi-tech PR.



Some of the largest increases in fee income for New England agencies in

1999 occurred due to acquisitions, such as Ogilvy’s growth of 431%

following its purchase of Feinstein Kean Partners, and MS&L’s growth of

262% due to its acquisition of Agnew, Carter, McCarthy. Cone experienced

a 52% increase in revenue, perhaps fueled in part by resources gained

through being bought by Omnicom. Other acquisitions included Lois Paul &

Partners by Fleishman-Hillard and Blanc & Otus by Hill & Knowlton.



Other firms blew away the average national increase of 30% in fee income

over the past year, including The Horn Group, which grew 115%, and

Sterling Hager, which attributes its 94% increase to a 92% re-sign rate

and a focus on what EVP Jim Joyal calls the ’sweet spot’ of the market,

meaning small and mid-sized clients.



Stanton Crenshaw Communications grew 94%, proving that opening an office

in Stamford, CT was a wise choice. Last year, the firm won its largest

client, FitLinxx.com, and also added CIT Group, Greenwich Technology

Partners, ChipCenter and BuzzCompany.com.



Generalist PR firm PAN Communications had an 87% gain, which VP Mark

Nardone attributes to the ’e-business craze.’



Several of the firms in the New England rankings also experienced

significant decreases in revenue. KVO fell 90% and closed its Boston

office in August after it lost its only client, software firm Cornet.

Golin/Harris fell 45%, based on numbers provided through mid-1999, when

the company merged its Boston operations with its New York presence. The

firm also changed its focus from technology to corporate finance

following the acquisition of its largest client, Digital, by Compaq.



Compaq also affected Miller/ Shandwick’s business in 1998, when fee

income dropped 28% as the agency moved the business to its Houston

office. In November 1999, the agency ended its relationship with Compaq

and more than replaced revenues with Hewlett-Packard and several

Internet-related wins, to grow fee income by 30%.



In 1999, Boston-based Brodeur Worldwide held onto its position as the

largest agency in New England, with income of about double that of its

nearest competitors, Waltham, MA’s Schwartz Communications and The Weber

Group across the river in Cambridge.





Transforming clients



While Schwartz enjoyed very healthy growth of 43%, both Brodeur (which

grew by 24%) and Weber (which grew by only 9%) found success in

transforming traditional companies into e-businesses. IBM is Brodeur’s

largest client to make the transformation. The agency’s health

technology practice, introduced in 1999, was another strong growth

area.



The Weber Group won ’blue chip to new chip’ clients e-GM, Ernst & Young

and Enron in 1999 and became the partner of choice for Avon.com in early

2000. As with Brodeur, most of Weber’s larger clients are scattered

throughout the US, although president and CEO Marijean Lauzier says that

the majority of emerging clients are local.



Despite modest growth (10%), Lois Paul & Partners won Northern Telecom

in ’99, as well as Parametric Technology and Open Market. The agency

lost Shiva in 1999, following its purchase by Intel in 1998. Lotus

remains the firm’s largest client.





New England nearly New York



Though Connecticut is in New England, Stamford’s proximity to New York

City has caused firms such as Brodeur to treat the office there like a

New York outpost. ’The location grew up around IBM’s location, then it

turned out to be a pretty good place for our employees to live,’ says GM

Janet Swaysland. In July, the office moved from Purchase, NY to Stamford

because of its proximity to the train line. Clients include IBM, Philips

and MapQuest.com, which was recently acquired by AOL.



While having a firm like Brodeur down the street may seem like a

challenge for a smaller firm like Earle Palmer Brown, partner John

Eccleston says that it’s actually an advantage. ’We think having more

quality agencies here starts to build a growing area of public relations

and technology,’ says Eccleston, adding that it gives the firm a larger

talent pool to draw from.



EPB made several acquisitions last year, including collateral shop

Sullivan & Mulvaney and Roundhouse Public Relations, which gave it

client Nikon.



With the acquisitions, EPB’s Stamford office has over dollars 5 million

in 1999 PR income.



According to Steve Maurano, SVP of Providence-based Duffy & Shanley,

even Rhode Island, as the smallest state, is making headway in

technology.



’We certainly don’t have the business community or any community the

size and scale of many other states,’ says Maurano. ’Our technology

sector has traditionally been very small, but now it’s starting to

grow.’ The generalist Rhode Island agency built a technology sector in

’98. PR income for ’99 was dollars 1.15 million, up from dollars 1

million in ’98, with additions such as Fidelity Investments last year

and Boston Harbor Cruises at the beginning of 2000.



On the other end of the spectrum, Barrington-based Martin Thomas PR

downsized five years ago from 25 people to five. ’When we first started,

we had a lot of New England-based clients that we could drive to,’ says

president Martin Pottle. ’Then in the late ’80s and ’90s, companies

started moving away. As the years have gone by, a lot of companies came

back, or new companies sprung up.’ The agency has diversified to offer

PR and advertising services, and 60% to 70% of its dollars 5 million ’99

fee income came from PR.



In New Hampshire, Brodeur-owned Beaupre & Co. has captured the

reputation as the best hi-tech PR firm. However, co-founder Andy Beaupre

says that it wasn’t until about two or three years ago that the agency

actually began working with New Hampshire clients. ’No one had the

budget and sophistication to do national public relations,’ says

Beaupre. The agency’s largest clients include BowStreet Software,

Lernout & Hauspie and business-to-business electronic trading company

HoustonStreet.com.



Frances Provencher-Kambour, principal of The Kambour Group in West

Moreland, NH, says that it is a disadvantage to practice PR outside of a

major metropolitan area. ’Many firms here in New Hampshire do event

planning and first tier media relations with trade publications and

local publications,’ she says. ’We do national and international, and

there isn’t any of that business in this area. On the eastern side of

the state, we still have cows walking down the street!’





Not a disadvantage



Jackson Jackson & Wagner senior counsel Isobel Parke says that despite

her location outside of a major city (the firm is in Exeter, NH), she

hasn’t found it to be a disadvantage in terms of providing strategic

counsel to clients. ’It gives you time to think up here, and that’s what

most CEOs value,’ says Parke. However, she admits that New Hampshire

isn’t the hub of media relations.



In Maine, Hauptman & Partners VP of strategic services Colleen Coxe

describes the PR scene as ’emerging.’ The integrated shop launched its

PR division in ’98 and experienced 250% growth in PR income in ’99.

Hauptman & Partners expects to achieve the same growth this year, fueled

mainly by its hi-tech PR division, launched last year to work with

companies in Maine.



’A lot of small technology companies in Maine are trying to get heard in

the national market,’ says Coxe.



As technology has grown in rural areas, it has also provided an

opportunity for firms specializing in tourism to diversify. While Nancy

Marshall Communications in Kingfield, ME primarily worked with tourism

clients in the past, the agency diversified three years ago, mainly

because the firm perceived a potential conflict of interest between the

Maine Office of Tourism and several resort properties that it

represented. The firm now focuses on tourism and service industries, and

picked up a hospital, a bank and the State of Maine Office of Business

Development.



In Vermont, Burlington-based Kelliher Samets Volk Public Relations works

mainly with local clients and specializes in education, telecom and

emerging outdoor recreation. ’It’s an outgrowth of who we are and why

we’re here in Vermont,’ says associate director of PR Mark Ray. The

firm’s clients include the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation,

McGill University in Montreal, the Vermont Business Roundtable and the

Stratevest Group.



Sharry Manning, president of Manning PR in Brattleboro, VT, says PR is

still perceived negatively in Vermont. ’Historically, people have had a

distaste for the word public relations - there’s kind of a hesitation

because everything in Vermont has always been so natural and

home-grown,’ says Manning, who moved to Vermont after serving as VP of

Baker/Winokur/Ryder in Los Angeles. Manning is in the unusual position

of practicing entertainment PR in Vermont and now works with actor Leon,

who played Little Richard in the TV movie Little Richard, and also had

parts in Waiting to Exhale and Cool Runnings.



With a wide array of practice areas and capabilities, firms like Brodeur

Worldwide and The Weber Group have certainly cemented their position as

some of the hottest firms in New England. But as some of the small

agencies get acquired by bigger firms, it may be only a matter of time

before they gain a larger footing. And with large agencies turning away

smaller clients who can’t meet a minimum retainer, even the smallest of

New England firms are in a position to benefit.





THE NUMBERS: TOP NEW ENGLAND PR AGENCIES


 Rank      Agency Name                 PR Fee Income (dollars )   Change

99   98                                      1999          1998        %


1    1     Brodeur Worldwide*          32,827,000    26,466,000       24

2    4     Schwartz Communications     16,644,012    11,646,113       43

3    2     Weber Public Relations

           Worldwide                   16,227,941    14,954,134        9

4    3     Lois Paul & Partners        12,985,932    11,801,779       10

5    18    Ogilvy Public Relations

           Worldwide**                 10,081,000     1,897,000      431

6    8     Cone                         9,590,066     6,312,000       52

7    6     Miller/Shandwick             9,288,000     7,151,000       30

8    5     FitzGerald Communications    9,083,515     7,610,385       19

9    9     Sterling Hager               8,079,073     4,171,360       94

10   7     Porter Novelli               7,932,000     7,061,000       12

11   N/A   GPC International***         6,600,000           N/A      N/A

12   19    Manning, Selvage & Lee       6,512,000     1,799,500      262

13   10    Cunningham Communications    5,438,197     4,120,000       32

14   N/A   Earle Palmer Brown           5,132,733           N/A      N/A

15   15    PAN Communications           4,452,000     2,376,000       87

16   11    The Rasky/Baerlein Group     4,211,666     4,100,000        3

17   14    CHEN PR                      3,624,939     2,400,000       51

18   13    BSMG Worldwide               3,372,434     2,840,000       19

19   16    BB&K                         2,505,680     2,090,065       20

20   22    The Horn Group               2,252,000     1,049,000      115

21   12    Peter Martin Associates      2,221,500     2,943,618      -25

22   N/A   Harpell/Martins & Co.        2,000,000     1,015,000       97

23   17    Schneider & Associates       1,821,919     2,057,457      -11

24   21    Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby         1,679,500     1,300,000       29

25   20    Jacobs & Prosek Public

           Relations                    1,601,286     1,450,000       10

26   26    Environics Communications    1,180,663       500,000      136

27   24    Fleishman-Hillard            1,121,000       669,000       68

18   23    Marenghi & Associates        1,100,000     1,000,000       10

29   N/A   Edelman Public Relations

           Worldwide                      809,797           N/A      N/A

30   28    Stanton Crenshaw

           Communications                 756,000       395,000       91

31   N/A   KCSA Public Relations          600,000           N/A      N/A

32   25    Morgan-Walke Associates        553,731       627,329      -12

33   30    Thomas Rankin Associates       425,983       354,010       20

34   29    Wanger Associates              395,000       370,000        7

35   N/A   Michael James & Company        250,000           N/A      N/A

36   27    KVO Public Relations            50,000       500,000      -90

37   31    PR 21                           42,966        54,104      -21

           TOTALS                     180,057,003   133,080,854       35



 Rank      Agency Name                US income  NE %    US income  NE %

99   98                                    1999  1999         1998  1998


1    1     Brodeur Worldwide*        42,349,000    78   33,580,000    79

2    4     Schwartz Communications   21,043,233    79   15,019,646    78

3    2     Weber Public Relations

           Worldwide                 76,760,938    21   57,866,543    26

4    3     Lois Paul & Partners      16,243,872    80   13,521,975    87

5    18    Ogilvy Public Relations

           Worldwide**               92,220,200    11   54,457,700     3

6    8     Cone                       9,590,066   100    6,312,000   100

7    6     Miller/Shandwick         153,429,000     6   91,485,000     8

8    5     FitzGerald Communications 13,400,000    68    8,900,000    86

9    9     Sterling Hager             8,079,073   100    4,171,360   100

10   7     Porter Novelli           106,606,000     7   79,522,000     9

11   N/A   GPC International***       6,600,000   100          N/A   N/A

12   19    Manning, Selvage & Lee    62,628,000    10   50,173,300     4

13   10    Cunningham Communications 23,379,560    23   20,437,000    20

14   N/A   Earle Palmer Brown        11,489,355    45          N/A   N/A

15   15    PAN Communications         4,452,000   100    2,376,000   100

16   11    The Rasky/Baerlein Group   4,211,666   100    4,100,000   100

17   14    CHEN PR                    3,634,375   100    2,400,000   100

18   13    BSMG Worldwide           122,062,000     3  109,573,000     3

19   16    BB&K                       2,505,680   100    2,090,065   100

20   22    The Horn Group             6,737,000    33    4,400,000    24

21   12    Peter Martin Associates    2,221,500   100    2,943,618   100

22   N/A   Harpell/Martins & Co.      2,000,000   100    1,015,000   100

23   17    Schneider & Associates     1,821,919   100    2,158,875    95

24   21    Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby       1,679,500   100    1,300,000   100

25   20    Jacobs & Prosek Public

           Relations                  1,601,286   100    1,450,000   100

26   26    Environics Communications  1,180,663   100      500,000   100

27   24    Fleishman-Hillard        181,152,000     1  136,272,000   0.5

18   23    Marenghi & Associates      1,100,000   100    1,000,000   100

29   N/A   Edelman Public Relations

           Worldwide                128,174,735     1  101,868,218   N/A

30   28    Stanton Crenshaw

           Communications             5,275,000    14    3,100,000    13

31   N/A   KCSA Public Relations      8,580,000     7    8,465,150   N/A

32   25    Morgan-Walke Associates   25,895,289     2   23,143,604     3

33   30    Thomas Rankin Associates     425,983   100      354,010   100

34   29    Wanger Associates            395,000   100      370,000   100

35   N/A   Michael James & Company    1,300,000    19      520,000   N/A

36   27    KVO Public Relations       7,623,300     1    8,800,000     6

37   31    PR 21                      7,047,625     1    3,509,305     2

           TOTALS                 1,008,750,728    18  746,302,001    18


 Rank      Agency Name                  City       State

99   98

1    1     Brodeur Worldwide*           Boston        MA

2    4     Schwartz Communications      Waltham       MA

3    2     Weber Public Relations

           Worldwide                    Boston        MA

4    3     Lois Paul & Partners         Burlington    MA

5    18    Ogilvy Public Relations

           Worldwide**                  Boston        MA

6    8     Cone                         Boston        MA

7    6     Miller/Shandwick             Boston        MA

8    5     FitzGerald Communications    Cambridge     MA

9    9     Sterling Hager               Watertown     MA

10   7     Porter Novelli               Boston        MA

11   N/A   GPC International***         Boston        MA

12   19    Manning, Selvage & Lee       Boston        MA

13   10    Cunningham Communications    Cambridge     MA

14   N/A   Earle Palmer Brown           Stamford      CT

15   15    PAN Communications           Andover       MA

16   11    The Rasky/Baerlein Group     Boston        MA

17   14    CHEN PR                      Waltham       MA

18   13    BSMG Worldwide               Boston        MA

19   16    BB&K                         Newton        MA

20   22    The Horn Group               Boston        MA

21   12    Peter Martin Associates      Stamford      CT

22   N/A   Harpell/Martins & Co.        Maynard       MA

23   17    Schneider & Associates       Boston        MA

24   21    Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby         Stamford      CT

25   20    Jacobs & Prosek Public

           Relations                    Stratford     CT

26   26    Environics Communications    Stamford      CT

27   24    Fleishman-Hillard            Boston        MA

18   23    Marenghi & Associates        Wellesley     MA

29   N/A   Edelman Public Relations

           Worldwide                    Boston        MA

30   28    Stanton Crenshaw

           Communications               Stamford      CT

31   N/A   KCSA Public Relations        Boston        MA

32   25    Morgan-Walke Associates      Boston        MA

33   30    Thomas Rankin Associates     Providence    RI

34   29    Wanger Associates            Newton        MA

35   N/A   Michael James & Company      Boston        MA

36   27    KVO Public Relations         Boston        MA

37   31    PR 21                        Boston        MA


* includes Brodeur’s Stamford, CT office and Beaupre & Co., Portsmouth,

NH (which Brodeur bought in 1999).

** acquired Feinstein/Kean in 1999.

*** called McDermott O’Neil & Associates in Boston acquired

Agnew,Carter,McCarthy in 1999; Boston office called Agnew Carter MS&L

office closed 1999.

Source: PRWeek Agency Rankings 2000.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.