For more than two decades, Madeline de Vries has operated one of New York’s premiere lifestyle marketing public relations firms, but over the past couple of years De Vries PR has undergone a stunning transformation, expanding its client roster from a fashion and beauty base to include an impressive array of consumer (and more recently healthcare) accounts, and broadening its service offering from traditional public relations and publicity to a more comprehensive brand-building approach that includes marketing alliances, sponsorships, cause-related programs, special events, and in-store activities.
De Vries has taken full advantage of the booming economy and the increasing dependence of smart marketers on public relations to cull her client roster—the firm now serves just 12 clients—while growing her business: revenues will be around $10 million this year, almost double what they were at the end of 1998. It’s an approach that has led to deeper relationships—clients call on De Vries for the kind of marketing counsel they used to get only from ad agencies—and to lower turnover. It also ensures that every client gets the kind of top management attention they crave.
It’s an approach that clearly appeals to marketers such as Procter & Gamble, an 18-year client of the firm, MCI, Nabisco, Nestle, and Seagram. New business wins over the past 12 months include 3M, which awarded De Vries its home care business in the spring and then added the high-profile Post-It account later in the year; P&G’s Crest, which will depend on DeVries for the launch of a new product in 2001; and Pfizer, which added De Vries to the roster of firms working on aspects of its blockbuster impotence treatment Viagra.
International assignments are handled through an organization called Interlink, made-up of handpicked partners in major overseas markets.