WeissComm Partners: Agency Business Report 2007

The firm that encourages clients to "trust the medical specialists" has grown its staff by 141% since December 2004, which COO Diane Weiser says is needed to grow its pharma business to balance a rich portfolio of biotech and device/diagnostics.

The firm that encourages clients to "trust the medical specialists" has grown its staff by 141% since December 2004, which COO Diane Weiser says is needed to grow its pharma business to balance a rich portfolio of biotech and device/diagnostics.

Weiser singles out Gottlieb's hiring as a defining moment. Gottlieb had been EVP/MD of C&W's 75-person New York healthcare practice. "With [her] appointment and other great moves, we are armed to go to battle," Weiser says. "We are in a great place and exactly where we want to be in terms of growth plans."

The firm is mulling global expansion, and will grow its partnership with UK firm Resolute, and is eyeing a deeper presence in locations like Chicago and DC.

Principal: Jim Weiss
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Two: San Francisco, New York

Staff
Rose by 51% to 44, with 18% turnover. Hires include Jennifer Gottlieb (Cohn & Wolfe) as MD, Amy Martini (Porter Novelli) as EVP, and Tim Malone (MRM Partners) as VP, as well as seven new associates. Terri Clevenger, who left as head of East Coast ops, launched an advocacy relations firm in Continuum Health, with which WeissComm will keep an alliance.

Regional performance
WeissComm reports strong growth on the East Coast, with West Coast growth holding steady. New programs got underway in mid-to-late 2006 in Europe.

Practice areas
Focused exclusively on biotech, pharma, and device and diagnostic companies.

Accounts
Product communication work continues to show the most growth, exemplified by assignments from Pfizer, 3M, Scios, and CV Therapeutics. Other wins were Abbott Molecular, ARCA Discovery, Connetics, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Losses included BioMarin, DiaDexus, and Threshold, while existing Pfizer and Novacea increased work.

Financial performance
Reported $7.35 million in revenue, up from just over $5.1 million the previous year. Organic growth represented 44.4% of the increase, and 55.6% of revenue came from new business.

Agency's full questionnaire follows below:

Name of parent division/company (enter both where applicable)
N/A

Name of subsidiary companies
N/A

Has your ownership status changed in the past year? If yes, please explain
No

Name of global CEO and US CEO (or most senior equivalent)
Jim Weiss

Name of person, if any, the most senior person named above reports to
N/A

What is your current headcount?
We currently have 44 employees on staff

How has your headcount changed since FY 2005?
As of December 2006, our headcount was 41, a 51% increase over December 2005 (and a 141% increase since December 2004).

What was the percentage of staff turnover in 2006?
18%

Did you make any senior hires in 2006 (VP and higher)? Please state name, title (and unique responsibilities, if applicable), and previous company
Yes, in no particular order:

  • Jennifer Gottlieb, managing director, New York. Previously at Cohn & Wolfe as EVP and managing director of its 75-person healthcare practice.
  • Amy Martini, EVP and co-leader of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, New York. Previously at Porter Novelli Life Sciences as EVP and co-led the creation of its life sciences practice.
  • Tim Malone, VP, Finance. Previously at MRM Partners/San Francisco as controller.
  • Tracy Naden, associate, New York. Previously at Fleishman -Hillard, Inc. as VP, Healthcare
  • Katherine Stueland, associate, Chicago. Previously at TAP Pharmaceuticals as director of corporate communications.
  • Geoff Curtis, associate, Chicago. Previously at GCI Group as VP, Media Relations.
  • Lori Murray, associate. Previously at Applied Biosystems as sr. manger, Global Public Relations.
  • Aline Schimmel, associate, New York. Previously at Porter Novelli as VP, Life Sciences.
  • Mary Claire Duch, associate, New York. Previously at Fleishman -Hillard, Inc. as vice president.
  • Amanda Mason, associate, New York. Previously at Fleishman -Hillard, Inc. as managing supervisor.

What senior staff have departed the firm? Please state name and previous title
None

Please list any other senior management changes, including restructures and significant, senior-level promotions
N/A

Have you made any acquisitions in the past year, or merged with another agency?
No

How many wholly owned offices do you have globally? Please list with agency names and cities under the following headings. Add majority-owned offices in parentheses.
North America

  • San Francisco, CA
  • New York, NY

How many partly owned offices or affiliates do you operate globally? Please list agency names and cities under the following headings.

Europe:
WeissComm Partners has a strategic alliance with UK-based Resolute Communications, a leading independent public relations firm that was recently named Agency of the Year by PRWeek in London. 

We have network affiliates in:
France- Groupe i&e
Spain- ACH & Asociados Comunicatión
Germany- Haas & Health Partner Public Relations GmbH
Portugal- C&C - Consultores de Comunicação
Italy- ThinkTank
Latin America- The Jeffrey Group

What offices opened in 2006 or early 2007? (State when)
None

What offices closed in 2006 or early 2007? (State when)
None.

Which regions, US and globally, are growing, and why?
US is growing, particularly on East Coast; West Coast growth is steady; new programs got underway in mid-to-late 2006 in Europe.

Which regions, US and globally, are growing, and why?
Agency declined to give information

Practice areas

How many practice areas do you have? Please list.
Focused exclusively on biotechnology, pharmaceutical, device and diagnostic companies, WeissComm has 5 Key Offerings:

  • Corporate Communications
  • Investor Relations
  • Product Communications
  • Clinical Trial Recruitment
  • Advocacy Relations

Which ones are new?
None

Of those, which ones are part of the core strategy of the agency?
They are all core as we offer services across the entire continuum of product and corporate lifecycles.

Which practice areas have been phased out in the past year?
None

What practice areas showed the most growth? Please elucidate.
Product communications continues to show the most growth exampled by product assignments from Pfizer, 3M, Scios and CV Therapeutics.

Which practice areas showed the least growth? Please elucidate.
We are seeing growth in all of our practice areas.

What is the distribution of accounts across practice areas?
With an exclusive focus on biotechnology, pharmaceutical, device and diagnostic companies, most WeissComm accounts span the continuum of all key offerings.

ACCOUNTS

What key account wins did you have in 2006? If based outside the US, or are global, please state regions.

  • 3M Diagnostics and Surgical Products
  • Abbott Molecular
  • Actelion Pharmaceuticals US
  • Anesiva (Zingo)
  • Antipodean
  • ARCA Discovery
  • Arena Pharmaceuticals
  • Celera Diagnostics
  • Cell Therapeutics
  • Connetics
  • CV Therapeutics( Ranexa and Corporate)
  • Fox Hollow
  • Lexicon Genetics
  • Medivation
  • Metabolex
  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
  • NeoPharm
  • Onyx Pharmaceuticals
  • Pfizer (Xalatan, US and Global)
  • Pfizer (Lyrica, Global)
  • Poniard
  • Prestwick
  • Progenics
  • Repros Therapeutics
  • Scios (Natrecor and Corporate)
  • TAP Pharmaceuticals (Corporate)
  • Threshold
  • Washington Hospital Healthcare System

Of your 2006 wins, how many were across three or more countries? 
Pfizer Xalatan and Lyrica Global.

What key accounts did you lose in 2006? If based outside the US, or are global, please state regions.
WeissComm resigned Avidia and PDL, and no longer works with the following clients due to either budget limitations or project completion:

  • BioMarin
  • diaDexus
  • Threshold

Did you expand any existing accounts into new domestic or international markets or sectors? Please elucidate.
Yes, Pfizer and Novacea.

What proportion of your clients are on a retainer?
End of 2006:  35% projects / 65% retainer

Has this changed over the past year?
Yes, end of 2005:  45% projects / 55% retainer

Performance

What was your 2006 global (including US) revenue? 
N/A

What was the % change over 2005 global revenue?
N/A

What was your global profit margin in 2006?
N/A

What was your 2006 US revenue? 
$7.35 million - Fee revenue only
$11.12 million - Gross revenue (including pass through expenses)

What was the % change over 2005 US revenue
26% change in Fee revenue
37% change in Gross revenue (including pass through expenses)

What was your US profit margin in 2006?
N/A - privately held

Did you experience top-line or bottom-line growth in the past year, or both? Please elucidate.
Yes, both areas grew though we only report publicly on top-line growth.

How much of your growth was organic, and how much was due to new business won?
Organic growth =44.4%
New growth =55.6%.

How did your performance, in terms of revenue and growth, meet expectations you had for the year? Please answer this even if you have not submitted revenue figures, including any information that characterizes your 2006 performance.
We exceeded our growth targets for the year.

Please briefly outline any initiatives undertaken in 2006 that add to your agency's story, such as staff development/training, fundraising/charitable initiatives, community programs, business partnerships, etc.
2006 clearly demonstrated WeissComm's evolution into a leading healthcare communications firm specifically with the addition of several seasoned new hires that enhanced our already richly talented staff. We have initiated professional development programs to align all our best attributes. WeissComm is committed to its culture and values, which extend into charitable initiatives in our communities.

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