During its first decade in existence, the Widmeyer-Baker Group grew to become one of the leading independent public affairs firms in Washington, with revenues of around $7 million, best known for its work in the education and not-for-profit sectors. But after growth flattened out in the late 90s, the firm underwent a major restructuring in 2000, closing its Los Angeles office, trimming staff slightly, and creating specialist practice groups to focus on a handful of key markets: education, education technology, healthcare, and the environment. It also changed its name to Widmeyer Communications, following the amicable departure of name partner Mike Baker.
The new firm is poised for growth, with revenues up a healthy 12 percent and revenues around $9 million. New business included a community relations program funded jointly by the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Company, and Edgate, a leading education technology company. Clients range from the College Board and Primedia/Channel One in education to Coca-Cola, McGraw Hill and Standard & Poor’s in the more mainstream corporate arena. Other highlights included the firm’s work in the campaign finance reform arena and its selection by an international energy company to develop a communications strategy around environmentally friendly power.
In addition to naming Joe Clayton president and chief operating officer, Widmeyer made a number of key hires, including David Frank, former communications director and head of public affaira at the U.S. Department of Education; Lee Jenkins, formerly a senior VP at Shandwick; Jim Kelly, former president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and Susan Tifft, a Duke University professor of communications and former Time magazine editor.