Olson PR: Agency Business Report 2013

A management change did not dent the fortunes of Olson PR last year. Pete Marino, who founded Dig Communications in 2004 and sold it to Olson in 2010, joined anchor client MillerCoors last year.

Principals: John Partilla, CEO, Olson; Bryan Specht, president, Olson PR (pictured)
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Chicago; Minneapolis; San Francisco
Revenue: $14.75 million
Headcount: 75

A management change did not dent the fortunes of Olson PR last year.

Pete Marino, who founded Dig Communications in 2004 and sold it to Olson in 2010, joined anchor client MillerCoors last year. Bryan Specht was promoted to president from COO and head of corporate affairs. Agency staff appear to be on board with their new leader's vision, as Olson PR enjoyed a low 4% turnover rate last year.

The agency posted 5% revenue growth in 2012 as it welcomed several significant AOR clients in Oscar Mayer, Kraft Foods (corporate), GoPro, Reynolds Consumer Products, and Kaufman Financial Group.

Departing clients included Country Inn & Suites, Dropcam, Naked Juice, and Izze, although the firm picked up work for fellow PepsiCo brands Tropicana and Propel Zero. 

Strong start
Major brands including MillerCoors, Wrigley/Mars, and PepsiCo continue to anchor the agency's business.

The firm is off to a strong start in 2013, too. It was part of the widely buzzed Super Bowl promotion for Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, a real-world tie-in to NBC's The Office, which aired only in Scranton, PA, but got nationwide notice. “We were able to use social media to drive views without spending the kind of money others did on Super Bowl placement,” says Olson PR president Bryan Specht.

More substantially, the firm won a six-year PR AOR contract in March with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission, which had been working with Padilla Speer Beardsley for 18 years.

Despite wins such as GoPro, Olson PR is still not meeting all of its goals in the consumer tech vertical. However, Specht is comforted by the knowledge that his agency is not alone. “If you're not a specialist firm,” he explains, “it's a space that can be volatile.”

MillerCoors continues to entrust the firm with major projects, as it was named PR AOR for new brands, including Third Shift, Redd's Apple Ale, and Coco Breve. It also expanded work for Blue Moon and Crispin Cider, among others.

For the year ahead, Olson PR is targeting expansion in San Francisco, establishing an office in New York City, and continuing to expand social and digital efforts.

“We've worked through a lot of change. People shouldn't expect much change this year. Now, we're about growth,” he says.

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