Ever thumb through an Us Weekly article about Bon Jovi's new album during a flight on Delta Airlines on your way to the W Hotel for a US Open tennis match?
That experience has been brought to you by Dan Klores Communications (DKC), whose day-to-day operations are run by MD and president Sean Cassidy.
Once an entertainment and media specialist, DKC now steadily brings in larger corporate clients by taking advantage of its broad client mix; the agency has won accounts like Sprint, Sirius, GM, and Reuters in the past two years. Instead of having large corporate clients scared off by the prospect of sharing a firm with Jessica Simpson, DKC has pulled them in with the potential for cross-promotional tie-in opportunities its client base offers.
DKC's headquarters take up several floors in an unassuming lower Park Avenue building; the lack of shine is somewhat surprising for an agency that still boasts clients like Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, and Sean "Diddy" Combs.
Cassidy, who works out of a dim office decorated with model planes and family photos, directs the progress of one of the PR world's most eclectic and broadly successful independent firms, which will easily crack the $20 million mark in revenue in 2006.
A Manhattan native, Cassidy earned an American history degree from Tufts University with a concentration in Cold War foreign policy, which world events rendered obsolete almost immediately upon his graduation. He returned to New York after school and flirted with becoming a paramedic before landing a job at a small boutique PR agency. After two years, he followed a friend to the brand-new DKC.
"It was relatively small, but vibrant and creative," Cassidy recalls. "Right away, you just saw the difference. Dan [Klores] was plugged in with the New York-based media in a way I'd never seen."
The firm grew rapidly in the early '90s, and Cassidy rose along with it. He was a VP by his late 20s and was made partner soon after. He also helped the agency's healthcare practice simply by cultivating clients in that arena. Today, he says he "keeps a close eye" on the healthcare business, while personally handling major crisis clients and continuing to work on some of his other longtime clients - and, of course, running the entire firm.
"I've found over time that I have a greater aptitude for the business side than I may have originally thought," Cassidy says. "The news side was certainly enhanced by Dan; the business side was something that I really learned by watching him."
Cassidy is proud of his agency's flexibility. One of his greatest challenges, he says, is finding staffers who are savvy in both marketing and media - not just one or the other.
"We believe that if you're going to advise your client on how to deal with the press, you should be somebody who's comfortable with the press," he says. "Otherwise, you're just advocating theory."
Because of the firm's range, Cassidy says it competes for business against virtually every type of agency, from the major global players to boutiques. But the competitiveness has not engendered much ill will. Steven Rubenstein, SVP of fellow New York powerhouse Rubenstein Associates, calls Cassidy "insightful" and "talented."
While he is more eager to talk about the business than to promote himself, Cassidy is not an uptight stiff nor an overt schmoozer. Several years ago, he spent 18 months riding with paramedics and photographing them at work - a view into what was nearly his own career.
Ultimately, he chose to rescue reputations rather than accident victims. DKC will continue to expand its national footprint, but, Cassidy says, "It's a New York sensibility that we have here."
Dan Klores Communications, MD and president
DKC. Began as an account executive, later promoted to VP