Three years after its acquisition by Omnicom-owned global public relations giant Ketchum, 20 year-old Access Communications maintains a strong, independent, entrepreneurial culture under the leadership of founder, president and chief executive Susan Butenhoff (named a partner of the parent company this year), and continues to thrive under its own brand, which has become a byword for creativity and strategic thinking in the consumer technology space—although the firm has expanded its client portfolio to include companies from the consumer products, telecommunications, life sciences and e-commerce clients sectors.
Much of the firm’s growth in recent years has come as a result of its early adoption of and thought leadership in social media, and 2010 saw Access underscoring its expertise with the launch of its Access:Social Scene series, featuring video interviews with media influencers from Family Circle, Maxim, USA Today, CNET, Fast Company, Mashable, and more. The firm also launched This Week in Social Media, an online newsletter offering the agency’s own perspective on social media communications.
Last year saw continued growth, with fee income up by about 8 percent, which meant that the firm recorded $20 million in fee income for the first time, and broke through the 100 employee barrier. There was new business from technology clients Brocade, Neustar, Taleo, Foundation Capital and Toshiba (laptops and TVs), and in the consumer sector from Safeway, Silver Oak Cellars, while the firm continued its work with CA Technologies, FICO, Intuit, Trend Micro, Polycom, PayPal, LeapFrog, 2K Games/2K Sports, Luna, Beefeater/Plymouth, Jacob’s Creek Wines, Digg, and California Closets.
Highlights of the firm’s work ranged from events such as the 2K Sports million dollar baseball challenge, which yielded millions of national broadcast viewers and was featured on the CBS Morning Show and building the world’s longest picnic table (longer than a football field) for the launch of Safeway’s new all-natural line, Open Nature, to social engagement work such as brand building efforts for the Intuit GoPayment product at SXSW to a thought leadership initiative for CA Technologies reinforcing the strength of the “mainframe as a mainstay” of the enterprise.
Says Allen Goldberg, vice president of corporate communications at Neustar: “We need a PR partner that can help guide us in this transformation, making sure our messaging reflects our mission, that we’re focused on the right communications objectives, and that our very complex and disparate value propositions are clearly understood by every audience we’re trying to reach. Access has been a remarkable asset every step of the way and continues to surprise and delight us with their creative thinking, and flawless execution. They’ve brought us the kinds of ideas, and the ability to turn them into action, that we need in order for us to succeed.
Access supports a number of clients in their global PR efforts, serving as PayPal’s global agency of record. Additionally, as a subsidiary of Ketchum, Access can draw on international network of 50 offices and numerous other affiliates.