Offices: Norwalk, CT; New York; Los Angeles; Boston; San Francisco; Beijing
Headcount: Global: 94; US: 86
ICR came out of a Wall Street background, founded in 1998 by analysts and portfolio managers to help management communicate to investors and financial media. ICR has since added crisis communications and other traditional corporate communications functions over the years, but CEO Tom Ryan says the agency has flown under the radar.
“We didn't come out of an agency or PR background, which is why we're lesser known,” notes Ryan. “We just haven't grown up at the same party as everyone else.”
ICR is hoping to change that. For starters, in January the firm appointed its first head of marketing, MD Ashley Ammon De Simone. “That position will cross into business development,” explains Ryan, “in terms of that individual reaching out to companies across the country and making them aware of what we do. We are probably the biggest agency that not a lot of people have heard of.”
In its 14-year history, ICR has never made an agency acquisition. By raising its profile as well as cross-selling its services to existing clients, the firm aims to continue its record of steady, consistent growth – apart from 2009, the agency's only down year.
Last year, ICR revenues rose 21% to $32.7 million. Growth came from cross-selling its corporate communication services to existing clients of its IR division. It also gained new clients, particularly in retail, tech, energy, and healthcare, including Carbonite, Pandora Media, AMC Entertainment, and Teavana.
Stable business model
Currently, ICR has about 300 clients, not one of which represents more than 2% of total billings. “We have an extremely stable business model,” says Ryan. “Like any firm, we certainly lose clients, but we're not in the position to have one client break the bank.”
In 2011, ICR lost clients including American Oriental Bioengineering, Funtalk, Fuqi International, and California Pizza Kitchen. He says the primary reasons for the losses include mergers and acquisitions, going private, and client cost-cutting.
Moving forward, Ryan says ICR will focus on client retention, cross-selling, and pricing. “We have an opportunity to look at pricing more strategically in terms of the services we're providing relative to what we're charging, and come to a greater equilibrium,” he explains.