Regional generalist with strong business-to-business and consumer capabilities
After emerging from the shadow of its advertising agency parent in the late 90s, Exponent (known until this year as Colle + McVoy) broadened its capabilities beyond the agribusiness sector where it was best known to take on broad business-to-business assignments, then added a strong public affairs practice and a consumer branding group that now accounts for 75 percent of the firm’s revenues and enjoys a particularly strong reputation in the food and animal health sectors.
The management team includes Riff Yeager, who brings 20 years of Twin Cities public relations experience to his position as management director; Jerry Olson, a former Cabinet member from the first Bush administration who also headed public affairs at Pillsbury; brand marketing expert Tom Lindell, late of Carmichael Lynch Spong and Fleishman-Hillard; senior wellness counselor Sue O’Brien; Cynthia Clanton, senior agribusiness counselor and head of the firm’s writers’ group, which produces a wide range of technical and consumer materials; and newcomer Bernice Neumann, who joined from Morgan&Myers in late 2003.
Exponent’s philosophy is based on the premise that public relations creates belief—in a company, a product, or a position. To do that, the firm relies on an account planning process—one benefit of being aligned with an advertising agency—that explores the mindset of client stakeholders, providing valuable insights. It follows through with an approach that conditions the market; leverages key influencers; meets the needs of the media; and coordinates with other marketing disciplines to ensure an integrated effort.
The firm grew at a healthy pace in 2004, up from $3.1 million to around $4.5 million, with the new assignments from General Mills (supporting four new Pillsbury product launches); Buffets, Inc. (to increase brand loyalty for the restaurant chain); Lifesource (promoting organ donation on behalf of the nonprofit); Faith Filmworks (building visibility for a faith-based motion picture production company); and Minnesota State Lottery (increasing awareness and support for the Lottery’s contributions to the Minnesota community). Other assignments included an announcement on the heart benefits of olive oil for the North American Olive Oil Association and expanding Nestle Purina’s Know the Score pet obesity education campaign to four new markets.