Principals: Bret Werner, MD (pictured); Bill Holtz, SVP; and Ted Fragulis, SVP
Ownership: IMG Worldwide
Offices: New York; Los Angeles; and Charlotte, NC
Following a year of top- and bottom-line growth, Catalyst Public Relations rounded off the year being acquired by global sports, fashion, and media company IMG Worldwide.
Catalyst, which in 2013 was named PRWeek's Small Agency of the Year for the second consecutive year, retained its name, becoming part of IMG's consulting business, headed by David Abrutyn, SVP and global MD of IMG Consulting.
The agency's management team of Bret Werner, Ted Fragulis, who came on board in 2012, and Bill Holtz joined IMG along with staff in the Los Angeles office, with New York and Charlotte staffers moving to IMG offices imminently. At press time, Catalyst was opening a London office, taking its headcount to 40.
According to Werner, Catalyst was not necessarily looking to sell, but having worked previously with IMG, he felt the company was a “natural partner.”
Catalyst saw revenues grow 33% in 2012, beating expectations. Of that growth, 90% was organic from five existing clients. For example, the agency won existing client Dick's Sporting Goods' digital business after a competitive pitch. New business wins included Purina Pro Plan and project work for Kraft and Microsoft Xbox. Work ended with Callaway Golf and the Professional Bull Riders Association.
Werner says Q1 2013 has been the strongest quarter in the firm's history. In the past, however, the agency's growth has been hindered by the lack of a global footprint. Partnering with IMG, which has 100 offices globally, solves that issue and Catalyst has pinpointed Europe and Brazil as regions for global expansion in 2013.
Digital continues to be a key focus for Catalyst, with revenues from digital activity beating 2012 projections by 30% and accounting for approximately 40% of business. A key hire in this space is senior director of digital Derek Goode, who has a digital advertising background.
Attracting great talent continues to be the biggest challenge for Catalyst, as the agency plans to grow headcount by about 15% to 20% in 2013.
“We are competing for talent with not only PR firms, but also digital and ad agencies, so the competition has amplified to a level I've never seen before.” Werner says.