In the mid 80s, Steve Smith built a 50-person public relations firm that was acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi and functioned for a while as the west coast operation of The Rowland Company. It was not a happy experience, and Smith has no ambition to relive it, which is why growth at Smith Public Relations has been controlled, and why expansion has come incrementally rather than through the opening of new offices or a headlong rush into hot new practice areas.
So all through the dot-com boom Smith—which has experience in the consumer technology and technology infrastructure sectors—remained focused. It didn’t turn away dot-com accounts, but it didn’t retool itself specifically to target that sector, as many competitors with similar credentials did. Rather, the firm continued to do what it does best, offering senior management involvement on all accounts, supplementing its brand-building expertise with a dedicated media relations department (headed by partner Diana Soltesz) that knows how to secure ‘A’-list media placements.
Revenues for 2000 were up an estimated 25 percent to a little more than $2 million. The firm added a handful of consumer and high-tech accounts, including CreSenda Wireless (won in competition with Edelman and BSMG); video game publisher THQ; Homestore.com; InterNAP; and venture capital firm Gabriel Venture Partners. The firm also added a corporate entertainment practice, hiring Barry Stagg as senior vice president and general manager of the new group.