In March 2007, Dorland was acquired by UK powerhouse Huntsworth PLC, and now reports to the Huntsworth Health division. Though consideration of the acquisition went on much of last year, Dorland president and COO Rita Sweeney says the agency “maintained exquisite attention” to clients, staff and professional organizations. Revenue increased 10% over 2005, and staff held steady at 125.
“Lord Chadlington, [Huntsworth chief executive], started Shandwick, which became one of largest PR networks in the world,” Sweeney says. “He’s doing the same thing with Huntsworth. We have about 60 offices in 30 countries and over 2,000 employees.”
Last year creative “improved dramatically,” winning more awards. It’s a trend Sweeney thinks will continue.
Dorland won four Johnson & Johnson assignments and began work on an unnamed Roche product, which launched this year; and landed Gilead work. Boston Scientific bought client Guidant Corporation, and Dorland was able to keep the business. Abbott Vascular, Veridex, American Diabetes Association, IDev Technologies and Adeza were also added to the roster. Mars SymbioScience was also picked up this year.
Cytyc and Eisai were lost last year, and 11 other projects came to a close. Lundbeck was won in 2006, but fell out this year when it decided not to launch in the US.
Finding talent was harder last year than ever before. “It’s very hard to find third-tier leadership,” Sweeney says. “There seems to be fewer and fewer senior managers, and competition is very stiff.” About 100 employees went through the training program Dorland Global Institute, which Sweeney calls “a very good benchmark.” An employee exchange program is currently offered. West Coast GM Joe Soto, who has global experience, was moved to the East Coast. Jeff Schwind, a client-side hire from InterMune, took over management of West Coast business.
Geographic expansion is a high priority. Dorland opened a New York City office for PR within 30 days of the sale. A Boston office is on the horizon, and offices are planned in Switzerland.
“Even though everything is being handled virtually in many places, companies that have been forced to downsize or control cost are looking for as much support from groups like us that they can get,” Sweeney says.
Huntsworth Health is adding to its global client roster and growing its PR group. “We’ve always maintained two business units,” Sweeney says. “Today, PR is covering areas that maybe 10 years ago would have been more traditional marketing services. PR is looking robust after a downswing. We have good leadership there. [Huntsworth does] a lot of professional PR. We do both professional and consumer PR. Specialty groups should come out of the services that offer them, but [services should be] offered in an integrated way so a team is put into place that combines [the] expertise of PR, marketing and interactive. We can do more effectively since the acquisition. Huntsworth also has a very robust market research group, and we’re just beginning to integrate them into the mix.”