ICF/ICF Olson

ICF/ICF Olson experienced a high rate of growth only two years after consultancy ICF International acquired Olson in 2014.

Principals: Kris Tremaine, SVP and division leader, ICF/ICF Olson (pictured); and Bryan Specht, president, Olson Engage
Offices: Global: 70; U.S.: 62
Subsidiaries: ICF Jones & Stokes, ICF Mostra, and PulsePoint Group, among others
Revenue: Global: $155,566,678; U.S.: $131,707,108

ICF/ICF Olson experienced a high rate of growth only two years after consultancy ICF International acquired Olson in 2014, including its PR firm Olson Engage.

Revenue in the U.S. increased 9.5% year over year, from $120.2 million in 2015 to $131.7 million last year. Globally, the agency saw an uptick of 8.7% to $155.5 million. That was fueled by inroads made in public sector work, including research and creative.

The firm’s federal footprint expanded with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. The latter awarded ICF/ICF Olson nearly $30 million in comms and social media projects in Q3 alone last year.

"We had significant growth, which was surprising in an uncertain federal market," notes Kris Tremaine, SVP and division leader, ICF Olson. "We won big accounts focused on big issues, such as opioid abuse and sepsis antibiotic resistance."

Olson Engage, which has expertise in PR and social media and about 120 staff, also won some large RFPs focused on the consumer sector.

Revenue generated from corporate and public affairs also grew at the agency by more than 20%, using the philosophy "creative is a method, not a department."

Tremaine credits the strong year "to a lot more integration." She cites Olson Engage as an example of being able to tap experts on the ICF side "that they might not otherwise think of having access to as a PR firm."

"When you buy companies and build them, you have to have a long-term vision. And that vision is now coming to fruition," Tremaine says. "But it took time and effort. When we acquire a company, we really integrate them."

Given its U.S. headcount — 686 at the end of 2016 — ICF Olson has introduced a council for creative and another for comms. On the hiring front, major new additions included Jason Miller, who joined from FleishmanHillard in September as VP, social engagement for Olson Engage.

Future growth from outside the U.S.
Outside the U.S., revenue totaled $8.4 million from Olson Canada, up from $6.7 million. ICF Olson is also in Europe, through ICF Mostra, which is headquartered in Brussels.

Its revenue dropped last year from $16.1 million to $15.3 million, but Tremaine said she expects it to rebound.

"ICF Mostra had been doing a lot of government comms across Europe, but is moving more into the private sector," she adds. "We’re looking forward to that growth in the future."

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