This week, kwittken & company announced its first acquisition outside North America, the U.K.’s Epoch PR. While the news is big, what lies ahead is equally huge. The two firms must now merge into one collaborating business.
While Epoch co-founder Christopher Clarke doesn’t see any difficulties moving forward, he does acknowledge that there will be some getting used to.
“Over the next few months, there will have to be an integration and a common language between the two agencies,” he told us during a phone call from England earlier this week. Having some common ground before the deal is made helps.
“When we first started talking to kwittken earlier this year, we felt we’d almost found our doppelganger in New York,” Clarke added. “Very quickly you get to a place where you know it will either work or it won’t work.”
This acquisition brings together two PR firms from across an ocean, and brings them together as part of a company, MDC Partners, that is composed of different marketing disciplines.
From a cultural perspective, Clarke does see differences between American and British firms. In his experience, it’s important for firms to take a local approach when taking their comms efforts cross-border.
Prefacing his comments with “I haven’t found that international or local perspective lacking with kwittken” (of course), Clarke pointed out that there is a tendency for American agencies to use what they’ve done in North America as a template for other countries.
London is set apart in a way because of its global nature, with Clarke calling it “a hub for the world.”
“The U.K. ultimately is a small market if you think about it as a nation,” he said. “U.K. brands typically take an international perspective with respect to growth. In the U.S., you can establish global strength through strength in the U.S.”
Moving past geography, we spoke with Miles Nadal, founder, chairman, and CEO of MDC, about leading a company that houses different marketing disciplines. In a recent PRWeek editorial, Nadal talked about the growing importance of PR within the marketing mix. With us, he described it as “the new new thing.”
“The most innovative things happening in communications are happening in PR,” he told us. “The voice and level that PR has been elevated to is at an all-time high and will continue to increase, especially as social media continues to play a role in bringing the consumer and brand together.”
To manage a company that combines all of these different businesses and comms efforts, Nadal says MDC refrains from managing “from the top.”
“We empower our partner firms to do what they have to do to drive performance for clients,” he said, adding that bringing in the right staffers with talents across the spectrum of integrated communications is what attracts clients.
So is this what the comms company of the future will look like?
“There won’t be a one-size-fits-all model,” Nadal said. “No one really knows so we have our foot in many camps; specialized expertise as well as integrated capabilities. The only thing for sure is the smartest and the best people at what they do will build a successful business.”