I wish Edelman and A&R the best with the acquisition. I just have to add that I am cautious in my optimism for its success. This is because I was involved in a similar acquisition in 1998.
I started my PR career as an intern with Alexander Communications, Inc. in 1996. At the time, the San Francisco office where I started had about 17 employees, and the Atlanta office had about 30. That was ACI at the time. The marquee client was Novell, and they had just landed two divisions of HP, the network server division and the new “Pavilion” consumer division. It was an amazing time to be involved with technology and the office was full of incredibly smart people including Pam Alexander, Holland Carney, Brian Johnson, and Amy Messenger.
The ‘middle management’ at the time was also very strong with Kim Hughes, now with Blueshirt, Hani Durzy, who now is with eBay and Mark Bingham as account supervisors.
By 1998, ACI had grown to almost 200 emloyees, revenues of $12 million, , a kick ass client roster, and several more offices, including Silicon Valley where I moved and our upstairs neighbor was Be, Denver and Boston. We were easily in the top 3, and many say ‘top 1’, tech boutique PR firms (anyone see any parallels here?). Technology was booming and the major interational firms wanted to be part of it so there was a buying frenzy. In the course of a few weeks, both ACI and our primary competitor, were both purchased by major international firms (again any parallels?) .
I can only speak for my experience at ACI, but for all of the posturing and talk of synergy and respect for the brand…….Ogilvy killed it. I was there until 2000, as were many others who hung around for bonuses, and then began the real industry-wide benefit of the consolidation that was taking place. Smart people with great backgrounds, that learned at the feet of an industry legend went out on their own.
Right now, I know of at least five firms led/founded by Alexander alums (not including Mark’s firm) including, The Usher Group (founded by Usher Lieberman), Fama-PR (co-founded by Anthony Citrano), Volume PR (founded by Elizabeth Robinson), Montgomery Pacific Group (founded by Ken Montgomery), and Morgan/Dorado (founded by me ;-).
And AlexanderOgilvy? Try and find a reference to it on the Ogilvy site these days. Amy Messenger is still there, but I’m not sure if any more of the original nearly 200 are.
I hope this works out for Edelman, I really do. But if it doesn’t, look for a boom in new technology PR firms in 2008.
Richard Edelman, Pam Pollace, and Bob Angus, I recommend that you contact some of the people above and see why they left.
But more importantly, maybe try Amy Messenger at Ogilvy, and see why she stayed.