Principal: Michael Olguin, founder and president
Offices: New York; Los Angeles; San Diego
Formula PR continued to grow steadily in 2012, while also improving the work environment for its employees.
The firm's revenue grew by 8.2% compared with 2011 to $12.5 million, exceeding its own goals by almost $900,000. This increase was achieved by what it called “exceptional” second and third quarters. The agency's East Coast operations grew by 19%, driven by its Hispanic PR and lifestyle work.
That growth means the firm is competing against larger agencies for new accounts, notes Michael Olguin, founder and president of Formula. “2012 was a successful year, but a little bit of a different type of year,” he adds. “Because of the size we've grown to, it means we were included in a lot more RFPs and pitches, but that also means that the competitive set was greater. We're competing against much bigger firms than we used to. The win rate is about the same, but the work, preparation, and research is much more complex.”
Formula won national accounts from Jewish dating website JDate, food brands Popcorn Indiana and Zoës Kitchen, TurboTax, and Pottery Barn. It also won an agency partnership with Ingersoll Rand, lock brand Schlage, and the Nexia home automation brand after a corporate spinoff.
The firm resigned its Honest Tea account and lost ShopRunner's PR business. In June, it lost the Pioneer Electronics PR AOR account it had held since 2010. Allison+Partners won the business.
Formula also made strides to evolve as a workplace, Olguin says. It brought a full-time recruiter on board and put in place other programs to cut down on employee turnover. The agency also created associate VP and associate director roles to help it retain talent.
“By adding this layer, there is a much better path for individuals,” explains Olguin. “We also developed a program called Formulites First, and created a more relaxed culture about hours and working from home. It's not that [younger staff] are not working as hard, it's that they want more latitude, so we changed things.”
For 2013, Formula has a revenue goal of $14.8 million. Its leadership also wants to cut down on staff turnover, win two major Hispanic-facing brands, as well as two CPG accounts, says Olguin.