Airfoil Public Relations: Agency Business Report 2008

Tyler spent much of the last two years in California launching the new office.

Outlook
Tyler spent much of the last two years in California launching the new office. She attributes much of the new-business growth to "diffusing the process through- out the agency," a trend she sees taking hold in the industry. "Significant development went into creative [aspects]."

The agency also invested in a research practice. After a "high investment year," the plan now is to focus on profitable growth and client satisfaction.

Staff

Headcount is 56, up 14%, with 25% turnover. Gayle Joseph, VP, b-to-b practice and Sue Barnes, GM, California, were hired this year. Promotions include Eric Kushner, SVP; Tracey Parry, SVP; and Leah Haran, VP. Kim Welch, VP, automotive, departed.

Regional performance

The California office opened in late 2006, and Airfoil's roster expanded well beyond core client eBay. The office ended up accounting for about 10% of overall growth.

"To continue to grow, we [needed] to have some geographic diversity outside Michigan," president Janet Tyler says.

Practice areas
B-to-b and b-to-c work represents 45% and 30% of business, respectively. The rest is split about evenly between auto, healthcare, and the West Coast operations. B-to-b and b-to-c grew equally (25%), while auto/healthcare showed 33% growth.

Accounts
Airfoil won more than 25 new accounts. Key wins include St. John Health, TerraPass, YouSendIt, and Speakeasy. The growth was substantial enough to exceed losses (about 10, including Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and PayPal).

Financial performance

Global revenue rose 19% to $7.2 million, which exceeded expectations. Profit margin declined by about 4% over 2006 due to the expense of the new California office. New business growth (78%) far outpaced organic growth (22%).

Key facts
Principals: cofounders Lisa Vallee-Smith (CEO), Janet Tyler (president)

Ownership:
Independent

Offices:
Two - Southfield, MI and Mountain View, CA

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