5W Public Relations has been among the most aggressive and fastest-growing public relations firms in the nation over the past five years, quickly establishing itself among the top 25 independents in the United States after just seven years in business and earning founder Ronn Torossian—who is still only 35 years old, a generation younger than many of his competitors in the New York marketplace—a reputation as one of the most outspoken critics of “business as usual” in the PR industry. The firm is known for its competitiveness (which manifests itself in new business development), hunger (its read-and-react initiative means staffers read relevant media on a daily basis, looking for potential news hooks and opportunities to showcase clients), creativity (the ability to tap into urban and popular culture that older firms seem barely aware of), and formidable media relations expertise (the ability to deliver traditional top-tier coverage, particularly in New York, supplemented more recently by fast-growing digital capabilities).
But even 5W was not immune to the impact of the global financial crisis, and after several years of double-digit growth, fee income was down by about 5 percent in 2009 (about the industry average) so that the firm ended the year with fees of around $11.3 million).
While the firm has attracted attention for its work with clients from outside the mainstream—from high-profile evangelicals to rap stars to Israeli politicians—the bulk of its business can be divided into fairly traditional practice areas: consumer brands (including Barnesandnoble.com, Evian, Cookie Diet and Proximo Spirits) with expertise in reaching moms and the youth market; corporate communications (clients include Tzell Travel, Snackable Media, Smartonline, Urban Retail Properties) with sub-specialties in real estate and litigation communications; technology marketing (Predicto.com, Juju.com and Caivis Corporation); travel and hospitality (El Al Airlines); food and beverage (Whole Foods Market, The Chocolate Show, and Anheuser Busch were clients in 2009); and health and beauty, perhaps the fastest-growing division, with a client roster that includes physicians, plastic surgeons, alternative health centers, psychologists, and a broad spectrum of health services companies and organizations.
Interesting assignments in 2009 included the introduction of Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet to the United States and beyond, securing top tier media placements such as the cover of People Magazine, articles in Forbes, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and pacements on ABC’s The View, ABC’s Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, E! News, and The NBC Today Show. The die is now being sold in thousands of GNC and Walgreens stores nationwide. For Nextweb Media, meanwhile, 5W has been working to position Predicto.com brand as the source for “pop-culture intelligence,” allowing the American public voices its opinions on the latest in news, politics and entertainment. Coverage included leading entertainment outlets such as TMZ, Variety and Hollywood Reporter, as well as multiple online sites. The firm also launched Oyster.com, a travel review website that saw 175 feature stories in its first 45 days.
”Proximo was looking for a high-energy, fast moving public relations company to manage our two fast growing spirit brands: Three Olives Vodka and 1800 Tequila,” says Elwyn Gladstone, head of marketing, Proximo Spirits. “5WPR as our agency of record has been quick, responsive and very creative as well as living by their mantra of judging work by results. From entry level staff to senior management, we get results, counsel and honesty.” Adds Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint Water: “5W Public Relations has achieved consistent, top tier results for Hint Water time and time again. They constantly bring creative, out-of-the box ideas to the table and execute tactful initiatives with seamless precision.” And Gil Lemel, CEO of BornFree, says: “They deliver, think in business terms and are part of our team. They are focused, hard-working, understand the media, our product, and all aspects of our target markets – From reaching moms to communicating with retailers, social media or potential crisis issues, we rely on their counsel and hard work.”