Catalyst Public Relations: Agency Business Report 2012

Catalyst Public Relations continues to parlay its targeted focus - sports, active lifestyle, and entertainment - and digital savvy into broad growth.

Principals: Bret Werner, managing partner; Bill Holtz, managing partner; Ted Fragulis, managing partner
Ownership: Independent
Offices: New York, Los Angeles (2009), Charlotte (2008)
2011 revenue: $5.9 million
Headcount: 34

Catalyst Public Relations, PRWeek's 2012 Small Agency of the Year and 2010 Boutique Agency of the Year, continues to parlay its targeted focus – sports, active lifestyle, and entertainment – and digital savvy into broad growth.

With wins last year such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Wild Turkey Bourbon, the firm's 2011 revenue of just under $6 million was up 15% from the previous year. Thus far in 2012, says Bret Werner, managing partner of the six-year-old agency, revenues have risen yet again to about $7 million.

Werner credits that mostly to organic growth, but those figures have also been aided by project work for Xbox and Rodale. In addition, Catalyst's relationship with Dick's Sporting Goods expanded this year, as the firm was named its digital AOR.

Digital is the arena in which consumers are increasingly living and the agency's annual thought leadership study has played a key role in helping solidify the agency's consumer expertise. Calling it the “premier study of consumer consumption,” Werner says the study directly led to expanded work with existing clients and opened the door for new business.

“Account and employee retention are huge metrics for us,” adds Werner, who boasts of Catalyst's 93% and 90% retention rates for clients and staff, respectively, in the past five years.

Key 2012 additions include Ted Fragulis, who joined in January as managing partner, and Kesal Patel, who was hired in May as digital strategy director. Shaun Clair, director, left the firm in June.

With offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Charlotte, NC, Werner says the agency is well positioned domestically, but global opportunities are always being monitored. Last year, Catalyst joined Pinnacle Worldwide, one of the world's leading organizations of independently owned PR firms.

“Pinnacle has helped us with a global footprint,” notes Werner, “especially this year with the Euro 2012 and the Olympics. We are currently working on a global beverage brand RFP with numerous Pinnacle partners.”

Looking ahead, Werner views digital as the key to growth. “We're aggressively building our digital services,” he explains, “but we're doing it differently than most. We don't just focus on the social aspect, but we look to understand the technology.”

In 2012, the agency has conducted numerous digital influencer programs in which it has tapped into everyday consumers to help better understand how the public digests information. “That's been a huge driving force for us,” notes Werner. “We see ourselves owning sports and entertainment in both the traditional and digital realm. Especially in the latter arena, there's a lot of potential for growth.”

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