Holmes Report 01 Dec 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
Shortly after L.C. Williams & Associates opened its doors in 1985, it picked up two important clients: chemical manufacturer Stepan Company and iconic furniture brand La-Z-Boy. Today, more than 25 years later, both companies are still clients of the firm, along with more recent additions such as Munters/Polygon (16 years), Ace Hardware Corp. (14 years), Pergo (nine years), Electrolux Home Care Products (eight years), and Tiffany & Co. (a newcomer, the jewelry retailer has worked with Williams for just six years).
That kind of longevity is testimony to the ability to Louis Williams and his team to provide the kind of customer service many firms talk about but few are capable of delivering on a consistent basis. LCWA has a rare ability to develop partnerships with clients so that the agency becomes a seamless extension of each client’s marketing team—while maintaining the independence and objectivity needed to deliver sound outside advice.
The firm is also distinguished by a research capability that’s unusual for a firm of its size, and by its impressive credentials in areas such as home care, arts and leisure, and the Chicago market. For clients in those sectors and beyond, LCWA delivers creative consumer and business-to-business marketing campaigns; impressive media relations results; and—another differentiator—internal communications (supported by its own internal communications climate index research tool).
LCWA is led by president and chief executive Kim Dahlborn, who has been with the firm for more than 20 years and plays a hands-on role with all clients; executive vice presidents Allison Kurtz (a brand-building veteran with expertise in the home products category) and Gary Goodfriend, a 35-year veteran of the Chicago PR business and former principal of his own firm; senior vice president of research Greg Gordon; and senior VPs Mary Moster (active in crisis and media training), Shannon Quinn (who leads social media activities) and Jim Kelly (head of the arts and leisure practice).
Fees in 2010 were around $4.4 million, up slightly over the previous year, with strong organic growth, much of it the results of clients adding digital and social media elements to their work. The firm continues to work with an impressive roster that includes Ace Hardware, American Nurses Association, eBay, Electrolux, Jarden Safety & Security, La-Z-Boy, Pergo and Trex. New business came from Chicago Children’s Theater, General Growth Properties, Matthews International, Monessen Hearth Systems, National Hellenic Museum, Paramount Theatre, Poly-Wood, Teatro Vista, Theater Wit and Thodos Dance Chicago.
In 2010, LCWA was integral in the successful launch of Trex Transcend, a new outdoor decking and railing product, for which the firm conducted targeted media outreach, created product interaction opportunities and built third-party credibility by involving high-profile design and home improvement opinion leader in the launch. For First Alert, LCWA uncovered alarming discrepancies between the recommendations of the National Fire Protection Agency and typical alarm usage in American homes to create a hook for the company’s involvement in Fire Prevention Week. And for La-Z-Boy, the firm worked to secure coverage of more stylish products to change the way people view the company and its recliners.
“Everyone I’ve worked with at LCWA is consistently reliable, proactive and a pleasure to work with,” says Pat Lee, public relations director at the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. “I value their counsel and services more with each passing year.” Adds Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs at Jarden Safety & Security: “Results! I’ve been consistently impressed with the top notch results achieved by L.C. Williams. They’re creative, persistent and results oriented. Their innovative approach to public relations has given our initiatives increased exposure to a larger and more diverse audience.”
LCWA is a member of Public Relations Global Network, an organization of independent owner-operated public relations agencies with 40 member firms and more than 50 offices worldwide.