MDC Partners has acquired a majority stake in Kwittken & Company, a deal worth an estimated $10 million to $15 million, according to The New York Times. Kwittken will become an operating unit of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners (KBS&P), the company’s second largest agency behind Crispin Porter & Bogusky. The story says that Kwittken has annual revenue totaling about $10 million and counts Thomson Reuters among its clients. Aaron Kwittken will continue as chief executive and managing partner, reporting to Lori Senecal, president and chief executive at KBS&P. The firm will retain all 22 of its employees.
The deal is the third in five months between MDC and a PR firm. The others were Sloane & Company in April and Allison & Partners in May. The transaction is the sixth overall for MDC since last September.
“P.R. is taking on a higher strategic importance based on its unique role in amplifying a brand’s message in today’s digitally focused, social media world,” Senecal tells the Times.
Update: PRNewser spoke with Jason Schlossberg, president of Kwittken & Company, about the impact of the transaction.
“On a certain level, it’ll have no impact,” he said, adding that the firm’s branding and the teams will remain the same. However, the firm will now have “access to tools, a wealth of talent, and resources in a completely integrated way where appropriate.”
Kwittken has already begun working with other KBS&P firms. For example, they have partnered with Lime PR & Promotion to work with client WGSN, a fashion trend forecasting company.
Kwittken has been in discussions with MDC for over a year, but the idea of building Kwittken into a larger firm has been in the works for longer, according to Schlossberg. He and Aaron Kwittken have talked with a number of large holding companies, but ultimately it was MDC that appealed to them.
“To do something that’s bigger than PR, blurs the lines, and is more ideas based, that was exciting,” he said.
There have been a variety of transactions, partnerships, and acquisitions in the PR industry in recent months. Besides MDC and its three transactions, rbb Public Relations recently acquired another Florida-based firm, Thorp & Company, and Next Fifteen has been actively acquiring firms. Schlossberg attributes this activity to the PR industry’s ability to bounce back during the economic recession, “the overall cost effectiveness of PR in the marketing mix,” and the significance of reputation management and social media.
“The traditional disciplines are blurring. Social media and digital are really responsible for that,” he said. “Because no one owns it everyone can own it. So you’re going to see strange bedfellows coming together in unique ways.”