Despite the recession, Barkley, which is well known for its cause branding efforts, is still seeing client investment in this area.
"It says that clearly the power of cause branding is being seen as... important regardless of what the economy is doing," says president Mike Swenson. "It's important that companies and nonprofits stay aggressive with programs, staying in front [of consumers], keeping their interest."
In addition to cause branding, Swenson says the firm saw its social media practice grow "by leaps and bounds." He adds that Barkley is helping clients through its crisis group to "not just deal with crises as they happen, but create a system for managing crisis on an ongoing basis."
The firm has seen new business activity in Q1 2009. "I think [this economy] creates opportunities for companies that are looking into how they can make a difference now," he adds. "This kind of economy is where you gain market share."
Current headcount is 23. Three people joined in 2008, including Tracey Beeker as account director for Sonic Drive-In.
Barkley has five: cause branding, corporate, media relations, crisis, and social media. Cause branding continues to be a standout area; corporate communications and media relations are also robust. Crisis and social media accounts are usually serviced on a project basis.
The firm had four new cause branding assignments in 2008, but cannot disclose the brand names. The firm lost the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Firm revenue in 2008 totaled $4,655,468, a 20% increase over 2007. Barkley attributes the majority of that to organic growth. It has a fee-for-services structure on which all clients are billed.
Principal: Mike Swenson, president
Ownership: 100% employee-owned
Offices: One, in Kansas City, MO