MWWPR: PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016

For MWWPR, 2015 was a year of stabilization after a rapid-acquisition period in 2014.

Michael Kempner, founder, president, and CEO, MWWPR
Michael Kempner, founder, president, and CEO, MWWPR

Principal: Michael Kempner, founder, president, and CEO
Ownership: Independent
Offices: U.S.: 8 and one in London
Revenue: Global: $58 million; U.S.: $54 million

For MWWPR, 2015 was a year of stabilization after a rapid-acquisition period in 2014, when it acquired numerous firms and branched into new areas. Though the firm did acquire boutique Berk Communications last October, it largely put the brakes on the expansion of prior years and focused on adding to its executive ranks.

Revenue for last year was about $54 million in the U.S. and $58 million globally, up about 1% and 2%, respectively.

Total client count dropped to 320 from 335 in 2014, though founder, president, and CEO Michael Kempner contended the agency is simply being more selective about the accounts it seeks. Three out of four clients are on retainer.

In line with expectations
Kempner says revenue growth was "in line with the plan and expectations," adding: "2015 was about moderate growth to consolidate the acquisitions and growth we had [in 2014]."

Significant account wins included the U.S. PR businesses for U.S. Bank, Qdoba, Kellogg’s, and the office of the president of the Dominican Republic. Account losses included the U.S. business for Samsung Telecommunications of America and the U.S. and U.K. assignments for Booking.com. The agency expanded its work from the U.S. to the U.K. for clients including Red Bull, Web browser Opera, and analytics technology company MediaIQ.

MWWPR also worked on the comms push for the release of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian from Iran and the release of Oscar-winning film The Danish Girl. The firm added three members to its C-suite in 2015 and early 2016. Former Catalyst principal Bret Werner joined as EVP and chief client officer early this year, while Will Starace was named EVP and CFO. Don McIver rejoined the agency as EVP and chief people and administrative officer.

Departures in 2015 included EVP, GM, and tech practice leader Molly Mulloy, who joined Crafted Communications. COO and GM David Herrick left for Cohn & Wolfe. Staffers at the firm dropped from 248 in 2014 to 228 last year. Of the 11 individuals in MWWPR’s C-suite, five are women.

In a move covered extensively by the tabloid and political press, the firm added Anthony Weiner to its board of directors in July, but split with the former congressman two months later. Kempner says the firm could get aggressive about acquisitions again later in 2016.

"My plan is to begin to look at acquisitions in Q3," he explains. "Whether we will consummate any this year or early next, I wouldn’t want to predict, but we will begin to look in earnest in the third quarter."

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