Fleishman began a number of initiatives in 2007, including "Switched On," which is set to add and integrate digital capabilities into all client work and has been supported by strategic hires, training, and marketing efforts. The firm also revised its Web site, www.fleishman.com, and added a number of former federal government officials to its roster, including former White House chief of staff Andy Card. However, the firm's growth despite its large size is what makes president and CEO Dave Senay optimistic for 2008.
"I would put this year up against every year at Fleishman and against that at any other agency," he continues. "We achieved 12% organic growth in 2007, which is - when you're talking about a firm of our size - pretty amazing. This does not include minority ownerships, and there were no acquisitions [during 2007]; this is all just year over year."
For the fourth time in five years, international growth exceeded domestic growth, a result of the firm's strong showing in Asia. Senay, who adds that he expects high international growth to become the norm for Fleishman, uses the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology as an example of the agency expanding its client base into nontraditional markets.
"[The university] is a really good example of the international work we're doing. We're really making a difference and responding to global trends," he says. "There's a large youth explosion in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries and they need to begin taking advantage of this resource."
By putting emphasis on growing the agency's digital technologies, Fleishman is also well positioned as a leader in cutting-edge communications disciplines, says Senay.
"We are told by our clients that there is no one among the majors who can touch us in respect to digital. We have more than 150 digital experts worldwide, and we are not treating digital as a unit, we are treating it as a fully integrated unit of what we offer all our clients," he says. "That's really important, because it's not just a PR play for us. We're getting business against advertising agencies, digital boutiques, and promotional agencies."
Fleishman-Hillard did not provide its headcount, but disclosed that it grew by more than 10% during 2007, while staff turnover was 22%. The firm hired individuals for 125 VP and higher positions, including former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) as co-chairman of government relations; Karen Van Bergen, as SVP and regional director; and Larry Kamer, as SVP, partner, and regional director. Fleishman also expanded its senior management committee from 21 members to 37.
The firm promoted Jorge Diaz de Villegas, Joanne Wong, David Wickenden, David Lowey, and Kevin Welman to managing director positions. Fleishman disclosed only that numerous senior staff members left the firm to join clients.
Fleishman launched an India operation and an office in Mumbai with a start-up team of SVPs Yusuf Hatia and Dan Baxter, along with Tarun Deo, MD of market development for the Asia-Pacific region.
While all of the agency's regions grew during 2007, Fleishman experienced its strongest growth in Asia, and the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US. The firm owns offices in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, and Singapore, and maintains majority owned offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Tokyo. Growth in Europe experienced a double-digit increase. All 2007 growth was organic, gained through expansion of existing clients, new businesses, and new offices.
Fleishman has 27 practice areas, three of which - animal care, FH global aid, and sustainability - were added in 2007. The firm's digital and marketing practices are now among the largest growth drivers within the agency, joining public affairs, healthcare, corporate reputation, and technology practices.
The public affairs, healthcare, marketing, corporate reputation, technology, and digital areas participate in the largest number of accounts throughout the firm. No practice areas were phased out during 2007.
Key account wins include the American Beverage Association, Avaya, Greater Houston Partnership, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Lenovo, and Merck Sharpe & Dohme. Fleishman lost two major accounts: Hotwire and the New Jersey Department of Health.
Key account AT&T expanded its relationship into countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, while Huawei Technologies expanded into India, Madrid, Tokyo, and Singapore. Less than one-third of Fleishman clients are on a retainer.
Fleishman did not provide exact global or US revenues or profit margins, but the firm revealed that global revenues exceed $500 million, more than $400 million of which is earned in the US. Both top-line and bottom-line growth was in the range of 10% to 13%. All 2007 growth was organic. The firm disclosed that its 2007 financial results exceeded management's expectations in terms of revenue and profit.
Principal: Dave Senay, president and CEO (pictured); John Graham, chairman
Ownership: Omnicom Group, as part of Diversified Agency Services
Subsidiary Companies: Allyn & Company, Avant, CPR Worldwide, GMMB, Lois Paul & Partners, Stratacomm
Offices: 72 wholly owned offices around the world, including 51 in the US. 12 majority-owned offices around the world, including four in the US
Revenue: Global revenue exceeded $500 million; US was more than $400 million