DETROIT: Franco Public Relations co-owner and president Lisa Vallee-Smith has left the firm to start her own hi-tech PR shop, Airfoil Public Relations.
DETROIT: Franco Public Relations co-owner and president Lisa
Vallee-Smith has left the firm to start her own hi-tech PR shop, Airfoil
Vallee-Smith will take nine existing Franco tech accounts with her. She
expects to bill dollars 1.2 million - about half of what Franco reported
in 1999 - in her first year. Airfoil has already picked up one new
client, technology incubator Smart-Detroit.
’The new company has mostly to do with speed, the need for speed’ in
responding to the demands of technology clients, said Vallee-Smith.
’These clients require that you set up an entity that is as much like
them as possible in terms of moving quickly and responding rapidly to
changing market conditions.’
Dan Ponder, the other Franco owner, said he expected the agency’s fee
income this year to exceed the 1999 take of dollars 2.4 million even
after the departure of the nine tech clients to Airfoil. The two firms
will continue to collaborate on some business, he said.
Ponder becomes the sole owner of Franco and assumes the president duties
Vallee-Smith is leaving behind. Five of the firm’s employees will join
Airfoil, leaving 25 at Franco. While Franco will continue to pursue
clients that use technology in their businesses, Airfoil will
concentrate on hi-tech companies.
Among the clients moving to Airfoil is Microsoft’s Great Lakes
Liz Siver, the company’s senior marketing specialist, applauded the
creation of the new agency: ’A lot of the PR needs we have as a tech
company are for instant turnaround.’ Siver added that Airfoil will adopt
more of a regional focus than Franco, which concentrates on Detroit.
A long-time fixture on the Detroit PR scene, Franco was the largest
Detroit-based agency to report fee income to PRWeek this year, ranking
But in recent years, firms such as Eisbrenner PR - which doesn’t
disclose its size - and several newer shops have often overshadowed
Franco on the Motor City PR front.