2005 Agency Business Report: Waggener Edstrom

Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO

2004 revenue: $77,758,000

2003 revenue: $69,693,000

Up 12%

Number of offices: Nine US offices - Seattle; Austin, TX; Boston, Dallas; New York; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Stamford, CT; Washington, DC. Three overseas - London, Munich, and Paris.

Staff numbers: Current headcount is 560 (as of February 2005), slightly up from 552 at the end of 2003.

Staff turnover: 19.4%

Senior hires: Several at VP level and above, including Kathleen Lewton, SVP, from Hill & Knowlton; Torod Neptune, SVP, formerly chief communications strategist for the US House of Representatives; James Olson, SVP, formerly VP of corporate communications at Overture Services.

Senior departures: 11 VP and above employees, including Claudia Husemann, SVP Portland, and LeeAnne French, EVP Stamford, CT.

New offices: Washington, DC and Dallas.

What region is growing? The London office has grown significantly in the past year; fee revenue increased 157% for the first 11 months of 2004, compared with the same period in 2003.

Structural changes: OnPR broke away from WaggEd after a management buyout in February 2005.

Practice areas: Core practice areas include technology, bioscience, corporate communications, consumer marketing and public affairs.

Which are part of the core strategy of the agency? While the agency's roots are in technology PR, other practice areas represent a growing of its business, and therefore are all critical to core strategy.

Key account wins: 29 new clients came on board with annual budgets totaling $8.2 million, including Affymetrix, Austin City Limits, Deutsche Messe CeBIT 2005, GE Healthcare, Genentech, Guidant, Kyocera Mita, Museum of Flight, Scansoft and Texas Instruments.

Key account losses: Anystream, ClearCommerce, Global Knowledge, Network Intelligence and Sunbelt Software.

Did revenue meet expectations? Yes.

Outlook: Melissa Waggener Zorkin says that 2004 was not the firm's most successful year from a financial perspective. But she says it was a positive one in that investments it had been making in programs were kicking in, with over 70% of new revenue coming from new areas like public affairs and consumer. The acquisition in 2003 of Maloney & Fox has, "been a remarkably bright spot," she says, while the firm is more aggressively pushing its bioscience practice. "The idea was to build credibility first, but we want to join others on big RFPs," Zorkin says.

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