New Citizen Relations and We Are Social owner targets PR acquisitions

PR agencies are "definitely" among the acquisition targets for the new owner of several former BlueFocus agencies including Citizen Relations and We Are Social, its CEO has told PRWeek.

PR is a 'hugely important area to invest in', says Blue Impact CEO Brett Marchand
PR is a 'hugely important area to invest in', says Blue Impact CEO Brett Marchand

US-listed Legacy Acquisitions has bought more than a dozen agencies from Blue Focus to form a new holding company called Blue Impact, it was announced last Friday.

The company has said it has 12 M&A (mergers and acquisition) targets "under review".

It said that in Asia, "growth through M&A is required to achieve scale", while in Europe and the Middle East there is "significant opportunity to scale through organic expansion and opportunistic M&A". The company said it has "no immediate M&A needs" in the US and Canada, where it already has a substantial presence.

Asked by PRWeek if PR agencies are among the acquisition targets, Blue Impact CEO Brett Marchand said: "Definitely. I think reputation and earned media and media skills are becoming more and more important.

"In the medium and long term, I think it's one of the most important skill sets, capabilities for marketers and clients in the future. And I think the more money that gets siphoned off or turned to digital, performance - the more that there's a machine making a decision on how to target - the more important thinking about brands and their reputation and how to manage them is going to be."

He acknowledged that "PR budgets are getting squeezed a little bit" in the short term, but "over the long term it's a hugely important area to invest in, for us and for our clients".

Marchand did not put a timetable on potential acquisitions.

"We're proactively talking to agencies that we are interested in and we've got a decent-sized team working on it. I don't want time pressure to create a situation where we're adding partners who aren't a great fit."

He said the weakness of the pound would be "the icing on the cake" for any potential UK acquisitions, but it "wouldn't drive our decision - these are long-term investments".

Acquisitions were "not about adding profit to the income statement... for the sake of it", he added, but about "building capabilities to help our mission".

Meanwhile, Citizen Relations is set to join We Are Social in other locations, globally.

Marchand described London-headquartered We Are Social as a "pioneer" in its expansion - it currently operates in 14 cities across the world. Blue Impact said it expects to open a second US office in California and also open in Canada later this year.

Blue Impact said it wants "collaborative campuses in each major market". Citizen Relations and We Are Social have been working increasingly closely in recent years and operate from the same office in London, Singapore and are about to do so in New York, along with other Blue Impact agencies.

Marchand said Citizen is "likely to be the next to join [We Are Social] around the world and we'll be adding other services, agencies, assets as we go".

He added: "Of the two groups that are working the most closely together, it's definitely Citizen and We Are Social right now. Just given the nature of social media and PR, there's a natural connection there."

Blue Impact, based in California, holds more than a dozen agencies, including Canada-based Vision 7, which in turn holds agencies including Citizen Relations, We Are Social, The Camps Collective, Cossette Communications, Eleven, Gene Global, K72, Narrative Group and Vision7 Media, among others.

Marchand was CEO of Vision7 prior to the formation of Blue Impact.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in