Gable Closes 25-Year-Old Firm, Launches GCS-PR
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Gable Closes 25-Year-Old Firm, Launches GCS-PR

The Gable Group has closed its doors after a 25-year run as one of San Diego’s largest independent PR shops. And now Tom Gable is reinventing himself, with the launch of GCS-PR.

Paul Holmes

SAN DIEGO, November 12—Two years ago, The Gable Group was enjoying perhaps the greatest boom in its history. It had abandoned some of the slow-growing practice areas for which it was once well known—cause marketing for example—and refocused on the fast-growing dot-com sector. It was adding staff and even moved into new, expanded space.
Then came the dot-com crash in April 2000, and abrupt reversal of fortunes. Many of Gable’s clients, which had been on track for an IPO, postponed those plans and then found it impossible to secure additional rounds of venture capital financing. In the summer, the first of the firm’s dot-com clients went belly up. Others followed, and Gable was forced to write off receivables.
“We had maybe 60 percent of our business in the dot-com sector,” says Gable. “With one or two exceptions, the firm we worked with had good venture capitalist backing, so we felt some level of comfort with them. There may have been a couple that we should not have taken on. But the crash took a lot of people by surprise.”
It’s a familiar PR story of our times. But agency founder Tom Gable believed the firm was close to righting itself. It had made some cuts, and was close to negotiating a new deal with its landlord. Then the firm’s biggest client, Vista Info, was acquired by Fidelity National Financial Information, which took PR in-house. The final straw landed on the camel’s back on September 11, in the form of terrorist attacks that caused several clients to rethink their PR plans.
So The Gable Group closed its doors after a 25-year run as one of San Diego’s largest independent PR shops. And now Gable is reinventing himself, with the launch of GCS-PR, a new firm he will operate in partnership with former Gable executives Rick Cook and Jon Schmid. Gable describes the new firm as “semi-virtual” in that it will have a small core team that will work with affiliates to keep overhead low while providing broader service.
“We have to do business in a different way,” says Gable. “We have been doing a lot more positioning work, a lot more branding, a lot more strategic counsel. Clients want greater access to senior counsel, they want smarter people and greater creativity.” For that reason, he says, the new firm will employ four senior counselors and a lone account executive, drawing on the pool of freelance talent in San Diego as necessary and also working with local specialists in public affairs and graphic design.
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