Sloane & Company: Agency Business Report 2012

Though revenue was flat for Sloane & Company, which focuses on corporate, financial, public affairs, and crisis communications, margins increased from 32% to 35%.

Principal: Elliot Sloane, CEO
Ownership: MDC Partners has a majority stake
Offices: New York (HQ), Boston, San Francisco
Revenue: $10.8 million
Headcount: 22

Though revenue was flat for Sloane & Company, which focuses on corporate, financial, public affairs, and crisis communications, margins increased from 32% to 35%. CEO Elliot Sloane attributes the increase to the business mix – 80% retainer and 20% pure hourly, which goes straight to the bottom line.
 
“We get involved in high-stakes, high-profile projects that reach into the highest levels of our clients,” he explains. “We [work on] a number of crisis situations in which we do significant hourly work on a short- or medium-term basis. We're the same as lawyers or bankers on these types of engagements. It's a lucrative business and it's an important business.”
 
Sloane says swings in the overall economy don't impact business significantly because financial, IR, and crisis work tend to hold priority for clients.
 
Though the agency, which opened its doors in 1998, doesn't break out numbers for practice areas, public affairs showed the most growth last year. Programs expanded for a number of energy clients, including Chesapeake Energy, Boone Pickens, and Exelon Energy. Work with Walgreens also increased significantly.
 
Wins included retainer-based business with Johnson & Johnson, Philips Electronics, Caesars Entertainment, and Weld North. Sloane reports no notable losses.
 
The firm is involved with some digital work for most clients, but Sloane says it isn't as critical as it is for consumer agencies.
 
Highlights of 2011 included the Philips win and preparing Caesars Entertainment for an IPO this February. Managing business early in the year, which Sloane says was slow, and some client staff changes were challenges the agency faced.
 
A San Francisco office opened in August to serve California clients and accommodate a senior staffer who wanted to move there. Sloane has no other immediate plans to expand the office.
 
Homegrown talent
More than half the staff are VPs and above with nine- to 13-year tenures. Turnover is 5%.

VP Andrea Tantaros left for Fox News Channel. There are plans to hire three to four people in the five-year experience range this year.
 
Ending 2012, Sloane expects to boost the top line and maintain margins. “We'll stick to what we do well and continue to invest in people as we need to expand,” he says.

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