RF|Binder

The end of its 10-year relationship with J&J and loss of accounts for Imax and Planet Fitness contributed to a flat year

Principal: Amy Binder, CEO and founder
Offices: Boston; Charleston, South Carolina; Los Angeles; New York; and Oklahoma City
Revenue: $12.5 million

For the better part of 2016, RF|Binder had seen little in the way of new clients or incremental business from existing clients.

"I don’t know why last year was such a challenging year, but companies were holding off on spending money," says CEO and founder Amy Binder.

The end of its 10-year relationship with Johnson & Johnson and loss of accounts for Imax and Planet Fitness also contributed to a flat year. Revenue dipped by about $50,000.

Business picks up
Things weren’t all rocky in 2016 as business picked up in Q4. The firm won five new clients: Booz Allen Hamilton, Salem Baking Co., Charles Schwab, First American Financial, and MarketAxess.

The momentum carried into 2017, with $1.5 million of new business in January and February, including for two institutions of higher learning. "Education is hot right now, particularly around tech," explains Binder.

Other growing segments for the agency include B2B and corporate PR. In addition to social and digital, the firm has focused on expanding its creative services offering.

"We’re really formalizing that into a separate team because we’re doing a lot of video, paid media, and creative," she explains. "We’re finding a lot of our clients can’t do comms today without having a strong creative team." 

The creative team has 10 members. The total agency headcount is down to 61 from 68 in 2015. Staff turnover was 29%.

Kathryn Seidenstein, who joined the company last year as HR director, departed in December for JPMorgan Chase. New hires included Steven Weinberg, a longtime legal counselor to the agency, as executive MD tasked with overseeing strategic initiatives.

The agency also added new elements to its two-year-old training curriculum Binder U, bringing outside experts from Columbia Business School to speak to staff. "We’re not so focused on teaching PR, but on getting our people to understand the business drivers our clients face every day," says Binder.

RF|Binder closed its bureaus in Chicago and West Palm Beach, Florida, last year, but opened a location in Charleston, South Carolina. Senior director Evan Nowell is spearheading new business development in the city.

More clients are asking the agency to help them with their global mandates, Binder says. The firm has recently done work for MarketAxess in Europe and Dunkin’ Brands in China and the Netherlands through its membership of global PR agency network PROI Worldwide.

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