WCG: Agency Business Report 2011

WCG reported 38% growth in revenue in 2010 as it continued its transformation from a traditional biotech shop into an integrated communications agency, led by its "innovation center" in Austin, TX, and its healthcare teams in San Francisco and New York.

Principal: Jim Weiss, CEO
Ownership: Independent
Subsidiary agencies: Invigorate Communications
Offices: 6 wholly owned globally; 5 in the US
Revenue: Global: $37 million; US: $35.6 million
Headcount:179 globally; 173 in the US

WCG reported 38% growth in revenue in 2010 as it continued its transformation from a traditional biotech shop into an integrated communications agency, led by its "innovation center" in Austin, TX, and its healthcare teams in San Francisco and New York.

Creative focus
CEO Jim Weiss cites WCG's interactive and creative offerings as major growth areas in 2010. Key interactive and creative hires over the past year include Powered's Aaron Strout, Chandler Chicco Companies' Trip Hosmer, and Deutsch's Scott Schindler.
 
"Instead of being a PR agency with a creative department, we're really trying to make creative a central part of an integrated firm," explains Weiss.
 
The firm also made a number of senior healthcare hires in Q1 2011, including Nancy Fitzsimmons of AstraZeneca and Laura Fusco of Grey Healthcare.
 
"Healthcare remains the vast majority of our business," says Weiss, noting that WCG's $5 million to $7 million biotech business has remained steady.
 
He adds that the firm continues to grow its consumer and tech business. Notable wins in 2010 range from Amgen and Millennium Pharmaceuticals to General Mills, Intel, and Warner Brothers.
 
Departures included Susan Hager, who had been a director in the corporate communications and IR practice, and senior associate Aimee Corso, as well as Invigorate Communications lead Tali Kaplan. Voluntary staff turnover was 22%, a factor Weiss acknowledges as a challenge for the agency as it changes its offerings.
 
"One of the big things we're experiencing as we evolve and transform the firm is that people come and people go," he says. "We expect turnover to remain high as we transform the agency."
 
More resources on the way
Weiss intends to add up to 50 new employees, from creative staffers in Austin to corporate reputation specialists, and grow approximately 25% in 2011.
 
In particular, he cites the Austin office, which had grown to 24 employees by the end of 2010, and the possibility of opening a Los Angeles office.

There are no plans for more acquisitions as Weiss foresees organic growth as a primary driver of WCG's success in 2011.

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