But this week, Cramer-Krasselt’s PR operations gained a measure of independence, thanks to a spin off, and a new identity, as they are re-christened CKPR. The restructured firm will have 85 employees and revenues of around $10 million, sufficient to rank it among the top 50 PR firms in the country according to the Council of Public Relations Firms.
The PR operations will continue to report to Peter Krivkovich, Cramer-Krasselt's president and chief executive officer, who also serves as president of CKPR, but PR managers in the four offices will now report to managing directors Steve Carr and Joel Curran, while maintaining a dotted line relationship with local ad agency managers.
Carr is a veteran of several large agencies, including Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Manning Selvage & Lee. Curran spent most of his career with The Walt Disney Co., where he helped shape the company's integrated marketing and also worked on the agency side at Price/McNabb and Fleishman-Hillard
“In the past, we were organized primarily to serve integrated accounts,” says Carr. “But we have seen a change in the market, with more companies looking for a stand-alone PR firm to handle their PR needs, and our capabilities have grown to a size where it made sense for us to have a stronger identity. At the same time, we can continue to offer an integrated approach when clients want that.”
CKPR will also be able to draw on the research, brand planning, and media buying capabilities of its parent company, which Carr believes will give it an edge over some of its independent competitors. “We will have a lot of analytical capabilities others our size don’t have,” he says.
In recent years, the amount of PR business shared with the ad agency has varied between 50 and 70 percent, Carr says, but despite that, CKPR has expanded beyond marketing communications to become a genuinely full-service firm, with practice areas including corporate communications and investor relations, public affairs, employee communications, healthcare and technology in addition to consumer marketing.
For example, the firm has produced annual reports for clients AirTran—the former ValuJet—and Winn Dixie, and has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on transportation air quality issues. Other clients include Hershey Foods, Corona Beer,
With its headquarters in Chicago and offices in Milwaukee, Phoenix and Orlando, CKPR is clearly stronger in the center of the country than it is on the coasts, a fact Carr says the firm intends to address with the addition of more offices. The first focus will be on the east coast, specifically New York and Washington, and acquisitions are possible, he says.