PR Exec Nickerson Takes Helm at Bader-Rutter
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

PR Exec Nickerson Takes Helm at Bader-Rutter

Bader Rutter & Associates has selected the longtime leader of its public relations operations, Greg Nickerson, to succeed agency co-founder Ron Bader as president.

Paul Holmes

MILWAUKEE, November 9—For all the supposedly integrated marketing communications firms out there, it’s still unusual to find anyone other than an advertising executive in the CEO’s office—a fact that gives rise to the suspicion in some quarters that integration still means advertising leads and everything else (PR included) follows.
But Wisconsin-based marketing communications firm Bader Rutter & Associates just became an exception that rule, selecting the longtime leader of its public relations operations, Greg Nickerson, to succeed agency co-founder Ron Bader as president. Bader, who spent 28 years at the helm, will continue to serve as chairman of the board.
Nickerson, who has a background in journalism, joined Bader Rutter in 1985 in its public relations group, working on the Dow Chemicals business. In 1992 he became head of the firm’s public relations group, and in 1997 he was appointed executive vice president, as part of a long-term transition plan that would allow Bader to step aside by the end of 2001.
“The last four years, my responsibility broadened to increase client service,” says Nickerson. “That allowed me to really learn the advertising and relationship marketing sides of the business and to get involved in all our major relationships.”
“Greg has earned the respect of our clients and employees,” says Bader. “I have complete confidence in his ability to take the next step forward and fully grab the helm of this agency. It was important for me to implement a succession plan that provides our clients with a seamless leadership transition. This is a major step in carrying out that plan.”
Bader Rutter has 150 employees and capitalized billings of $103 million, making it one of the largest business-to-business marketing firms in the country. Once best known for its work in the agribusiness sector, Bader Rutter now generates about 60 percent of its revenues from non-agricultural clients. Accounts include Boise Cascade Office Products, Caterpillar, Dow AgroSciences, and SC Johnson Professional.
Nickerson says Bader Rutter is about as fully integrated as it’s possible to be. The PR department was founded when the agency was just five years old and provides about one-third of the firm’s net income, reporting fees of around $4.9 million in 2000. The vast majority of clients use all the disciplines in the firm’s arsenal, according to Nickerson.
As for the future, the firm just went through a Brand Blueprint process that involved researching both clients’ and employees’ views of the agency, and Nickerson says he may broaden the firm’s service offerings, although it’s unlikely that Bader Rutter will abandon its focus on the business-to-business marketplace. Geographic expansion is another possibility. The firm currently has offices in Lincoln, Neb., and Memphis in addition to its Milwaukee headquarters.
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