Principal: Scott Widmeyer, chairman and CEO
Offices: Washington, DC; New York
Widmeyer Communications built its book in the educational arena, but has been learning the same lesson about the business world for the past several years – work is out there, but it takes more diligence to win.
“The lag time for a potential client to decide has been longer than what we would have experienced five to seven years ago,” says chairman and CEO Scott Widmeyer.
In 2012, Widmeyer weathered changes in senior management of two crucial practice areas, Pre K-12 education and public affairs. Ben Finzel left his post as SVP atop the public affairs practice for Waggener Edstrom. Jim Luetkemeyer was promoted to replace him. Crystal Brown, the lead on its education cornerstone WK Kellogg Foundation account, left to become CCO at the University of Maryland. She was replaced by Ken Sain, most recently with Porter Novelli. After relying on an interim leader in New York, the firm tapped Tracy Shea, late of Edelman, CNN, and CBS.
Overall, Widmeyer's 2012 staff turnover was a hefty 36%. “These things happen,” says Widmeyer. “We try to build a good professional development program and incentivize our top folks and new people.”
To that end, the firm has adopted a formal professional development program, dubbed Living Digitally, which includes twice-monthly presentations on cutting-edge social and digital topics. The agency also plans to add two embedded digital specialists to its practice groups before summer.
Despite the turnover rate, the agency excels on the diversity and inclusion front. Its work in this area earned it a Diversity Distinction in PR Award last year.
Widmeyer's revenue grew 8% in 2012. Key wins included US AOR status for educational publisher Elsevier, ExxonMobil (AOR for education, which includes the energy giant's support for the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math), and FDA Tobacco Control, subcontracting for Sensis for a campaign targeted at abating rural youth smoking.
In addition, Widmeyer had a hand in the topical work being done by the State Budget Crisis Task Force with a major event held last July. “We've all seen good PR budgets deflated due to spending curbs,” explains Widmeyer, “but we see some big-ticket things popping up.”