Ruder Finn US: Agency Business Report 2015

Ruder Finn closed out 2014 with a global revenue increase of 17%, and an uptick of 24% in the US, its second consecutive year of double-digit growth.

CEO Kathy Bloomgarden
CEO Kathy Bloomgarden

Principal: Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 12; US: New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC
Revenue: Global: $73,891,000; US: $46,352,000
Headcount: Global: 565; US: 253

Ruder Finn closed out 2014 with a global revenue increase of 17%, and an uptick of 24% in the US, its second consecutive year of double-digit growth.

"We’ve been firing on all cylinders this past year," says CEO Kathy Bloomgarden. She attributes the growth to a steadfast focus on four practices and an improvement on the global offering of each.

"Originally there was strength in some regions, but not in others, so we worked really hard to globalize our offerings," she says.

Each of the four pillars, as the firm calls them – corporate reputation and transformation, health and wellness, technology and innovation, and digitally driven consumer connections – grew last year.

"The highest performers were tech and innovation, which increased 58%, and health and wellness saw an uptick of 15.8%," says Bloomgarden. "We know the competitive space in those areas, so it strengthens our hand in talking to potential clients."

Healthcare, its largest practice, added a "very significant" global account with Amgen, which includes digital work. In technology, Ruder Finn added global accounts with Nokia and Belkin, formerly an Edelman account, last year, as well as expanded work with existing clients, such as Samsung. The firm hired Robin Kim from Edelman to lead the global tech and innovation practice from San Francisco.

Eighty-six percent of its 2014 revenue came from multinational clients, notes Bloomgarden.

Account losses included EngenderHealth in the US when work came to an end after a planned campaign launch and New World Development in Hong Kong. The firm did not disclose profit margins.

Further acquisitions
The agency made a "small acquisition in Hong Kong" when it scooped up the Asia-Pacific portfolio of SharpeLankester, a firm known for crisis, reputation management, and IR work. One of its cofounders, Charles Lankester, joined Ruder Finn in Hong Kong as part of the deal.

In the next 12 months, Bloomgarden says she will consider additional "bolt-on acquisitions" that complement one of the firm’s four core pillars and come with "great people," no matter the region.

In China, an area of increasing importance to all PR firms, Ruder Finn added to its luxury portfolio with the account wins of Richemont and Blancpain. Bloomgarden described the new additions as the "drivers of growth" in the region.

US headcount jumped by about 50 with many new additions in New York, including new global CFO, Peggy Walsh, who joined from Ketchum, Joo Yeon Yoo, senior art director for RFI Studios, and Gina Kelly, director of talent and people experience.

Calling the Q1 2015 new business pipeline "very dynamic," Bloomgarden says she expects to "achieve further strong double-digit growth" this year.

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