Barkley PR: Agency Business Report 2010

President Mike Swenson says three acquisitions in the past three years have strengthened the agency in terms of talent and clients.

Principal: Mike Swenson, president
Ownership: Independent
Office: Kansas City, MO

Staff
Current headcount is 30, up seven over 2008. There was one mid-level layoff last year. In August, Barkley acquired Kansas City agency Boasberg\Wheeler Communications and its 10 employees.

Practice areas
Practices include crisis management, social media, corporate communications, cause branding, and media relations. The bulk of business falls within the latter three, which continued to grow. No practice slowed significantly in 2009.

Accounts
Barkley has about 15 clients. Wins for 2009 include the Giving Tree and the National Honey Board account. All Boasberg\Wheeler clients were retained, including UMB Bank, which was shared with Barkley before the acquisition. Client budget cuts (mostly in Q1) impacted the agency, but it didn't lose any accounts.

Financial performance
Revenue totaled $4,993,000, up from $4,655,468 in 2008, with a "slight uptick" in net profit. Most of the firm's growth was organic, though new wins and the acquisition also helped.

Analysis
President Mike Swenson says three acquisitions in the past three years have strengthened the agency in terms of talent and clients. "This year is looking really good," he adds. "Being part of an integrated ad agency is an advantage over standalone PR. The definition of PR is definitely broadening."

The agency's renowned cause practice continues to expand, as does its social media efforts. Swenson notes "cautious optimism" from clients this year.

"They're looking to us to help find the best strategies to meet their challenges," he says. "It's exciting because clients need us as much as they ever have."

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