An Introduction from the CEO of Ketchum’s Newest Partner, Capstrat

Innovation, geographic reach and talent development – three reasons we began a careful search for a potential partner a year ago. We wanted to find an agency as committed to operational excellence as we are and as committed to developing our staff. And a partner who appreciates a compulsion to innovate in response to client needs.

We’ve found all that and more in the people we’ve met at Ketchum. Our interactions have been warm and professional. We couldn’t have asked for a better welcome.

I realize that blog posts don’t typically share just the facts, but I’m posting this to Ketchum’s blog, as you might not be as familiar with Capstrat. So here are a few things about Capstrat, the new partner in the Ketchum network:

  • We opened our doors in 1994 as Capital Strategies, a public relations firm, in Raleigh, N.C.
  • Because of our name, people kept mistaking us for political consultants or financial advisers. In 2004, we shortened our name to Capstrat.
  • Today, Capstrat isn’t a public relations firm. It isn’t an ad shop, either. We believe insight-driven ideas rule and that the communications channel is incidental.
  • A dozen years ago, we saw the lines separating communications disciplines beginning to blur. Now, it’s nearly impossible to tell where advertising ends and public relations begins. Digital and social media overlay everything.
  • We’ve learned that talking about integration is easier than achieving it. Integration can’t be an afterthought. We’ve built Capstrat so that, for instance, if a public affairs campaign needs a paid media component, we can produce and strategically place the paid media – all in-house.
  • We’ve added many capabilities as clients described their challenges. In 2004, we first provided clients with social media counsel. We added user-experience designers to our digital team in 2006, the Pleistocene era in digital years.
  • In the midst of the Wall Street meltdown in 2009, we decided the one capability our clients needed right away was analytics, so we created a team. That same year, we produced our first mobile app.
  • We built an account planning group because we needed to know more about our customers’ customers. We’re staffing up now to advise clients on customer relationship management (CRM) and predictive analytics.
  • About 10 percent of our staff are copywriters of one stripe or another. We do believe that content reigns.
  • Capstrat is a very good mid-sized agency that could have continued to grow steadily as an independent. But it would have taken us another 10 to 15 years to become a credible national or global agency. In the meantime, clients and prospects increasingly ask how we can support them in Singapore or San Francisco.
  • We believe we’re good innovators. Our ability to integrate paid, earned and owned media could be a model for how public relations firms increase their value to clients. But we’re limited in our ability to scale those innovations.
  • Finally, we have an amazing young staff. This past year, we tripled our training budget to help them grow. But it’s still not enough. We want our stars to develop to their full potential faster.

That brings me back to the beginning of this post. Like us, Ketchum is committed to developing its colleagues. As a matter of fact, that is one of the many things Ketchum is known for in the industry. They also have the same strong commitment to their clients that we do. It’s a bright future.

Here’s to a great 2013 with our new colleagues, clients and work that matters.

 

Ken is CEO and co-founder of Capstrat. A former journalist and past executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Ken counsels clients on communications and public affairs strategies.