Principal: Elise Mitchell, CEO
Offices: Fayetteville, AR
Founded in 1995 as a sole proprietorship and then restructured to a full-service agency in 2005, Mitchell Communications Group has quickly grown into an eight-figure firm. Its 2011 revenue surpassed $11 million, up from $6.5 million the previous year and $3.6 million in 2009.
“When you see the potential for great return, you have to take the risk,” says Elise Mitchell, president and CEO of her eponymous firm. Moving to northwest Arkansas in the mid-'90s when there were no other PR agencies in the area was such a risk, but it paid off when local companies such as Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt all became clients – and remain so today.
In fact, 60% of Mitchell's clients are on retainer and, she explains, their continued and growing relationship with the agency has helped net other accounts. In 2011, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Procter & Gamble joined the client roster, while no business has been lost.
Growth is also clearly evident on the staffing front, as Mitchell currently has 68 full-time staffers, up from 61 at the end of 2011 and 44 in 2010. Key recent senior hires included Shea Davis, VP of corporate communications, and Kay McDowell, VP of media and editorial services.
In addition to the in-office staff, Mitchell, PRWeek's 2011 Small Agency of the Year, maintains a proprietary network, which includes 20 PR specialists and 11 creative and digital specialists – all project employees – across the US.
“This allows us to take on large-scale projects, literally overnight,” says Mitchell.
The agency's key practice/service areas include: consumer; corporate; creative services; a center for training, business, and leadership excellence; digital and social media; media and editorial services; and research and insights. The latter three are recent additions.
Moving forward – or “looking through the turn,” a leadership mantra of Mitchell's – the agency is actively looking for new locations and is expanding its CPG practice. And new media will continue to be a focal point.
“Work in digital and social is exploding,” notes Mitchell. “We now have an in-house video team that has become a great alternative to the traditional video houses of the past. We also just hired our first senior developer. We can feed all social media needs clients have.”