Formula PR: Agency Business Report 2014

Formula PR experienced top-line growth in 2013.

Formula founder and president Michael Olguin
Formula founder and president Michael Olguin

Principal: Michael Olguin, founder and president
Ownership: Independent
 New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego 
Revenue: $13,084,260 
Headcount: 95

Formula PR experienced top-line growth in 2013, with the firm's revenue growing by 4.5% compared with 2012’s $13 million. The increase stemmed 59% from existing clients, 41% new business, but the firm failed to meet its stated target of reaching $14.8 million revenue in 2013.

"We will always have strong organic growth, because we have strong client retention at 90%," says Formula’s founder and president Michael Olguin. "It is easier to grow your business when you do good work for existing clients, rather than chasing potential [new] clients."

Although Formula is a generalist agency, its primary practice areas are consumer and spirits. Olguin says the agency’s travel business is picking up speed after Wyndham Hotel Group recently tapped Formula as AOR.

Other account wins in the past year included Super 8, Sound United, Suneva Medical, Ciao Bella, NatureBox, Arctic Zero, ’47 Brand, Legend3D, Phillips Distilling Co., and SodaStream.

High-profile new business accounts fueled growth of 14% at the firm’s Los Angeles office in 2013. For instance, Formula was retained by sporting goods retailer Sport Chalet last spring to further establish the brand as a leader in the active lifestyle industry.

The biggest campaign Formula worked on with Sport Chalet last year involved defining the company’s subject-matter experts, deemed the "dream team," and using them as influencers in the marketplace to provide expertise regarding emerging sports.

"The real thing you want to do is to position a retailer as an expert or resource or go-to, because they know everything you would need to know if you were going to take up that particular sport," adds Olguin.

The firm lost clients including Tagg and Cymer due to acquisitions; other losses included Belkin, Munchkin, and Aviation Gin.

Major people moves at the firm included the rehire of Jarrod Walpert – who had taken a sabbatical to complete his master’s degree – as VP, lifestyle, the promotion of Taryn Unruh to VP, sports and entertainment, and Tara Reid as VP, consumer tech.

Meanwhile, Kelly Baker, VP, consumer tech, departed the firm last year. Staff turnover at the agency was 11%.

In December, the firm launched a PR dashboard called Buzz to provide clients with media relations results on a monthly and cumulative basis.

The firm also established three research panels last year to access keen insights into key vertical market consumers: The Collective, a group of 10,000 male and female consumers across the country, aged 21 to 32; Mommies Who Care, 250 moms with kids at home; and Nueva Latinas, a group of 3,000 Hispanic women.

"Last year we started significantly leveraging insights [through the research panels] to determine consumer preferences," says Olguin. "This aids us in developing targeted PR programs for existing clients and new business prospects, and is a priority focus for us in 2014 too."

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