Lewis PR: Agency Business Report 2015

Lewis PR marks its 20th anniversary in 2015 and the agency is "coming out of the gawky teenage years and starting to get into our prime and flex our muscles".

EVP Morgan McLintic
EVP Morgan McLintic

Principals: Chris Lewis, global chairman and CEO; Morgan McLintic, EVP, US
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global: 28; US: Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC
Revenue: Global: $61,000,000; US: $27,935,000
Headcount Global: 490; US: 156

Lewis PR marks its 20th anniversary in 2015 and the agency is "coming out of the gawky teenage years and starting to get into our prime and flex our muscles," says EVP Morgan McLintic.

Global revenue grew 17% organically last year, he adds, but counting the acquisitions of UK-based digital marketing shop Purestone and EBA Communications in China, revenue was up about 40%.

In early 2015, Lewis bought San Diego-based digital marketing firm Piston. The deal will push Lewis’ global revenue past the $72 million mark, including $37 million in the US. Following the acquisition, the US will account for about 51% of global revenue.

Digital expansion
One way Lewis plans to continue growing is through expansion of digital services. Purestone and Piston operate as part of Lewis Pulse, its digital marketing unit launched in 2013. Clients are devoting more resources to that area, including social media marketing and Web development, McLintic explains. For instance, Lewis is the lead social media agency for VMware and McAfee.

The agency hired Gugs Sarna, Noor Aziz, and Eloi Asseline as heads of digital in the UK, APAC, and France, respectively, and brought on Matt Robbins to build its US research and insights team.

Lewis pushed into new markets such as Beijing and Shanghai with its EBA acquisition. Its affiliate partner network Lewis+ expanded to Austria, South Korea, and Taiwan last year. The agency is looking to bolster its presence in Latin America, India, and Asia-Pacific. In the US, Lewis is eyeing the possibility of opening up in New York or Chicago, he says.

"We want to win and do a good job for current clients in one country and then expand into other markets," notes McLintic. The agency did that with Accellion, which it started serving in Germany after working together in the US.

US client wins included Yik Yak, the buzzed-about anonymous messaging app. The firm also began working with British-based broadcaster Sky and aims to "keep ahead of the innovation curve" by investing in Silicon Valley companies, he says.

The agency lost business from Systech, Everwise, and AlgoSec in the US, as well as Aegon in Spain and Ticketbis in the UK, Spain, and Germany.

Globally, Lewis won accounts such as Airbnb in Singapore, Canon in Portugal, Hitachi Data Systems in Hong Kong, Logitech in Malaysia, and Turkish Airlines in the UK.

Its client base continues to be dominated by tech companies, such as SAS and McAfee, but about 30% of business outside the US is consumer, he adds. McLintic anticipates Lewis expanding into other verticals such as healthcare and financial services.

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