Principal: Scott Allison, president and CEO
Offices: 8 wholly owned offices in the US
Headcount: 80 people
Last year was one of growth and expansion for Allison & Partners, as it opened offices in Atlanta and Seattle. The agency had minor layoffs in Los Angeles, mostly due to the loss of its YouTube business. In Q4 the agency resumed hiring thanks to wins like Johnny Rockets, PF Chang's, Fly.com, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, Samsung Information Technology, and the California Tobacco Control Program.
Its core practice areas remain consumer PR/marketing, healthcare, and technology. The agency grew its consumer PR practice by picking up high-profile wins such as L'Oreal USA's Centennial Anniversary, and extended its digital and cause marketing work for Philosophy Cosmetics. The agency also took on its first statewide public health campaign with the California Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Program.
All save the agency's Phoenix office are growing. "Phoenix is flat," says founder and CEO Scott Allison. "It's our toughest market. The Phoenix economy is very difficult." Even so, the firm services some of its highest-profile clients – Best Western, Philosophy – from its five-person Arizona office. It also hired Cathy Planchard as GM of that office earlier this year.
The agency made a previous high-profile hire in late October when Tom Biro, former senior director of communications at MTV, was tapped to run its new Seattle office. "Tom is working twofold," Allison says. "He is consulting with a lot of clients as well as building an office there."
The agency's 12% growth over 2008 is slightly lower than its 15% to 18% rate during better economic climates. "We were doing 30% to 40% growth, but you can't maintain that once you get to a certain size," Allison says.
Staff holding steady
Allison acknowledges the firm's low turnover rate of 1.25%, but he says that can be attributed to the economy and a lack of jobs. He says, "For me the real bellwether is, are we losing people to other agencies?" He states that this has not been the case.
When asked about M&A activity in 2010, Allison says "we're looking to do some smaller acquisitions," with particular plans to bolster its public affairs and healthcare practices.