Our 2008 New Consultancy of the Year, Catalyst was founded in 2006, when Bret Werner, a 13-year veteran of Alan Taylor Communications, took advantage of the firm’s restructuring—it has since become simply
Like the old Alan Taylor, Catalyst is focused on sports marketing—which accounts for slightly more than half of revenues—but has also added a significant lifestyle marketing practice and a growing entertainment industry focus. Also drawing on the heritage of the old Taylor firm, the focus is on media relations, although Catalyst takes a sophisticated, strategic approach to the media—with an emphasis on media mapping, messaging and measurement—and has expanded its capabilities beyond traditional channels to include significant expertise in digital and social media.
Take this endorsement from client Herbie Calves, vice president of marketing for Timex Group: “Success when it comes to public relations is typically measured by results. But to get results, you really need to understand the media industry. Catalyst has proven to me that it has the intimate knowledge and experience required to get results. The one-two punch of insightful strategic counsel and aggressive tactical execution has helped Timex elevate its brands in the crowded marketplace.”
The firm’s work for Timex, positioning the new iControl watch as a must-have product for Gen-A consumers (a target audience of 40 million individuals who work out two or more times per week) was one of the highlights of the past 12 months. Catalyst analyzed the media consumption habits of Gen-A consumers, created an experiential launch event to showcase the product’s functionality and deliver key messages, and secured an exclusive placement in USA Today the day of the launch, resulting in 130 million top-tier media impressions and helping the product sell out on the day following the launch. Another interesting campaign involved raising consumer awareness of the [yellow tail] sparkling wine line, via an online survey that asked consumers to choose their top 10 American Yellow Tail, which increased consumer awareness of Yellow Tail sparkling wine by 6 percent.
By combining the best of good old-fashioned public relations with a modern strategic approach, Catalyst has in just two years doubled in size (fee income for 2008 was around $4 million) and built an impressive roster of clients, most of them new to the firm over the past 18 months, including major brands such as Consumer Reports, ESPN, World Triathlon Corporation, NASCAR, Purina, Subway, Timex and Under Armour, often providing specialized strategic support to larger firms with an agency-of-record relationship, ensuring that the companies in question can get the right messages into the right top-tier media.
The firm’s strategic approach is underscored by the addition in 2008 of Catherine Reynolds as vice president consumer insights and primary research from leading PR research and evaluation firm Echo Research. Also new in 2008 was Tristan Panasik, director of emerging media, who joined from Zeta Interactive. They join a leadership team that includes managing partners Bret Werner and Bill Holtz and vice president Rob Bronfeld—all three veterans of