Richard French made a name for himself as head of the public relations group at North Carolina ad agency Rockett Burkhead Lewis & Winslow, but when philosophical differences with management led to the formation of his own agency in April of 1997 he began to realize his true potential. In the three-plus years since Richard French & Associates was founded, it has become a close to $5 million PR firm with four offices up and down the east coast, a regional leader with a growing national reputation in the consumer branding and technology arenas.
French’s firm is a full-service agency, offering a range of services that includes product and corporate media relations, issues management, and marketing support, but it also has several areas in which it excels. From day one, it was among the leaders in the food and beverage category, with clients including Canandaigua Wine Company and GoodMark foods, and in the apparel industry, thanks to award-winning work for VF Corporation, including its Wrangler brand jeans. More recently, it has emerged as a leader in western lifestyle products—representing the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association—and more conventionally in technology, launching a formal practice earlier this year.
The formation of the tech practice and the appointment of former Time Warner marketing executive Terrell Mayton as its leader, was one of the most important developments of the past 12 months. The firm also opened offices in Tampa and Nashville, complementing its Raleigh headquarters and its presence in New York, and acquired Nashville-based Equestrian Sports Marketing. These moves contributed to another year of healthy growth—up 50 percent to $4.8 million—as did an impressive year of new business wins that included the International Gemmological Institute, Panoptx Eyewear, VF Workwear, Zoomculture.com, and HoopsTV.com.