Holmes Report 19 Oct 2010 // 11:00PM GMT
New government relations and public affairs firms pop in the nation’s capital every day, but few arrive with the fanfare, critical mass and credibility of K-global. For one thing, the firm is backed by Interpoint Group, which is supported by respective private equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisers and also owns National Strategies, Inc., one of the nation’s premiere business-to-government consulting firms. For another, the firm is led by Paul Johnson, who was recruited as chief executive after building Fleishman-Hillard into perhaps the largest public affairs player in the Washington, D.C., market and then serving as vice-chairman of global growth, responsible for the firm’s acquisition strategy.
The firm quickly announced a leadership team that included Christine Middleton, managing director, Mid-Atlantic, and a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard; Richard Doyle, senior VP, Mid-Atlantic, a veteran association executive and public policy professional; Mark Isaac, also senior VP, Mid-Atlantic, former vice president of public policy and communications at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; James Morice, managing director, Mid-West, a former regional president at Fleishman-Hillard; Mark Abels, senior VP, Mid-West, another FH veteran; Brian Hardwick, managing director, West, a founding member of the senior management team at Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection; Darren Katz, managing director, South and grassroots, former president and co-founder of the Edison Group; and Vanessa Champlin, senior VP, South, former vice president group manager at Ketchum.
One of the major differences clients will notice is that K-global does not bill by the hour. “We don’t sell our time; we sell our expertise,” says Johnson, who says the firm’s focus is on delivering agreed-upon results at an agreed-upon price. That’s an emphasis on bottom-line business results that the new firm inherited from its parent company and its senior investor. Other key differentiators include a significant investment in technology rather than bricks-and-mortar infrastructure, creating a community of expert practitioners connected electronically; a view of public affairs as a proactive discipline—one that can advance business interests in a positive way; and an array of resources that stretches beyond public affairs and conventional lobbying to include business-to-government marketing and more.
K-global has been growing exponentially since its launch, picking up work from clients including Custodia Financial, iGPS, Washington Adventist Hospital, LifeLock and the Medicare Today Coalition and recently adding GNC, Applegate Farms, and Avera Motors. One interesting assignment involved a national, state and local public affairs campaign to raise the profile of plaintiffs in Garcia vs. Vilsack, a lawsuit that sought to remedy years of admitted discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Hispanic farmers. K-global took the dispute beyond the courtroom through outreach in targeted media markets, creating an informal coalition of concerned organizations that generated more than 10,000 petition signatures. As a result, the court’s settlement deadline was extended, giving attorneys for the farmers more time to negotiate an acceptable agreement. The firm also worked with the Medicare Today Coalition to educate Americans about the Medicare Modernization Act.
“We have been exceptionally pleased with the results K-global has delivered,” says Tod Ruble, CEO of Custodia Financial. “They have never lost sight of our financial and operational objectives, and they never stop trying to find ways to more effectively help us achieve those goals. They are creative, strategic, focused and committed. We have worked with other agencies, and K-global definitely has provided an exceptional return on our investment.”
In addition to its U.S. presence—offices in Atlanta, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco and Tallahassee in addition to its D.C. headquarters—K-global has an international office in Brussels that focuses primarily on EU business. But the Pegasus investment—and Johnson’s acquisitions experience—means that the firm has the resources to build a network in key global markets as needed.