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Outrider Corrals 4 Assignments

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As many interactive agencies face a downturn in business and subsequent layoffs, Outrider has announced four new-business wins and a quartet of staff additions.

The interactive agency has landed work from The Hartford Financial Services Group; healthcare organization MedSpan; Precision Dynamics, a manufacturer of valves and controls; and MyHomeKey.com, an online business that allows homeowners to schedule repairs and maintenance and shop for home products online.

Budgets were not disclosed.

Outrider is charged with providing online marketing services to The Hartford, while MedSpan is looking to redesign its Web site. Work for Precision Dynamics will include designing and developing an e-commerce site that allows engineers to design their own solenoid valves online. Chores for MyHomeKey.com include providing search engine optimization, creative graphics and customer relationship management services.

"A broader range of services gives us more opportunity," said Outrider vice president and director of marketing Eric Knight, who attributed the wins to the company's integrated service offerings.

Outrider, Farmington, Conn., also added Nancy Schlaeger and Sherwood Stranieri as search engine optimization specialists, Eric Springer as a controller, and Julie Ruby as project manager.

Staff cuts have dogged many other interactive marketing firms, including AnswerThink, iXL and Zentropy Partners.

"We're in growth mode," said Knight, whose agency has increased its revenue from $3 million in 1999 to $14 million in 2000. That number is projected to increase to $20 million in 2001.

With so many companies struggling to drive traffic to their Web sites, one area that Outrider considers a key part of most programs is search engine optimization, Knight said.

"As companies are looking at their marketing dollars, they're looking for ways to promote themselves as efficiently as possible," Knight said. "The best bang for the buck is to optimize a company's site on a search en-gine,which can be done at a relatively low cost and provide an influx of new customers."

Outrider has more than 250 employees in 18 offices and 13 countries, including two offices that have opened this year. The agency is part of the Tempus Group, a $5 billion U.K. marketing and communications consortium.