Spong’s president emeritus and founder Doug Spong is departing the firm on December 31.
The announcement of his move comes less than two months after 10-year Spong veteran Julie Batliner was upped from MD to president at the firm. Batliner, who reports to Mike Lescarbeau, CEO of sister Interpublic Group firm Carmichael Lynch, now leads the agency’s Minneapolis and New York offices.
But Spong has no plans to retire. He sat down with PRWeek to share what he wants to do next and his thoughts on the past 25 years at his eponymous firm.
Can you share plans for your next chapter?
Right now I am focused on wrapping up 25 years at Spong, as well as Carmichael Lynch, where I am one of four managing partners. Once I wrap that up early next year, I will announce what my plans are. I plan to remain active in a leadership role within the PR field and profession. And I look forward to working with a number of organizations to help them discover and articulate their purpose, sharpen their positioning for both corporate and product brands, and enhance their competitiveness and the resulting success that comes with all of that.
Will you found another firm or do consulting work?
Either is possible. I love the business too much to walk away. I do not want to retire. I don’t want anyone to pin that scarlet letter "R" on my chest. I am too young, vibrant, and I love the profession too much.
Last April, your firm rebranded from Carmichael Lynch Spong to Spong to create a stronger distinction from ad agency Carmichael Lynch. Will the name change again now?
No, not that I am aware of. That was not part of the plan back in April 2014. That was focused on the rebrand. It is not my place to say what will happen with the name once I step out.
Spong celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. What legacy are you leaving behind at the firm?
It is as simple as creating something from nothing. 25 years ago, there was no Spong. It is a very rewarding and fulfilling thing to have created something from nothing that endures and thrives today.
Why have you decided to leave now?
Sometimes you need to know when to say "when." I don’t need to stick around any longer. All of my responsibilities will fall to [Batliner], and we have had the fourth quarter to transition things. She knows our staff, our clients, and she has more than proven herself in the 10 years she has been with us that she is capable of taking over as president.