Lewis PR: Agency Business Report 2014

An acceleration of growth from Q2 2013 - which continued into 2014 - helped Lewis PR post a global revenue increase of 24.4% from the year prior.

Principals: Chris Lewis, global chairman and CEO; Morgan McLintic, US chairman and CEO (pictured)
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 25 wholly owned; US: 4
Revenue: Globally: $44.8 million; US: $19 million
Headcount: Global: 420; US: 140

An acceleration of growth from Q2 2013 – which continued into 2014 – helped Lewis PR post a global revenue increase of 24.4% from the year prior.

The agency, which was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in London has 21 offices in the UK, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. However, much of the firm’s 2013 growth came from the US, where it has four offices. Revenue was up 55.8% thanks to an acquisition and a strong base of tech clients, including increased mandates from Splunk, VMware, and McAfee.

New clients include Cree and Stericycle, while Imperva and LongJump were among client losses.

In June, Lewis PR also made its largest acquisition: Davies Murphy Group, a 65-person Boston firm focused on the b-to-b tech space. Its 2012 revenues were about $9 million.

Lewis’ US chairman and CEO Morgan McLintic says additional acquisitions are planned as the firm strives to reach $100 million in revenue in the next few years.

"Our industry is dominated by 10 to 12 companies," he notes. "But the industry is ripe for some new entrants at the top that are more global, post-Internet companies."

"We anticipate we’ll do three deals this year – two of them in the next quarter," adds McLintic. "The US is the world’s largest PR market, so we want to make some investments here. We will also be looking at acquisitions in Asia-Pacific."

Globally, Lewis PR continued the rollout of its digital marketing division Lewis Pulse, which accounts for a third of US revenue, into London and Singapore. The agency also extended its geographic footprint with the launch of its affiliate partner network Lewis+ into Brazil, Israel, the Nordic region, Russia, and Turkey.

Talent challenges
McLintic says the firm’s biggest challenge is talent. "From 2008 to 2011, we were focused on finding clients," he notes. "Now, the biggest inhibitor of growth is finding and retaining great talent."

Staff turnover was 35%, predominantly at the lower levels. Craig Oda, SVP of emerging brands, left the firm.

Lewis PR has also just introduced an employee development academy in its San Diego office called RISE. At least every two years, staff will be flown to the office for a training boot camp.

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