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Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week I'm interviewing Aaron Kwittken, founder of KWT in the latest of life stories podcasts.
Aaron started KWT, formally Kwittken, 13 years ago. Before this he followed a big agency career path working at MSL, Ketchum, Fleishman, Cohn and Wolfe and Havas.
KWT has a fee income of $12 to $15 million dollars and around 80 employees including 12 in London.
Aarron sold KWT to MDC Partners in 2010 and still owns a minority stake in the firm.
MDC Partners also owns Allison Partners, Hunter PR and Sloane & Co.
Here is a summary of what Aaron and I discussed:
- Why having spent 13 years working for some of the world's biggest PR firms he decided to launch Kwittken. 0.59 mins
- Why mediocrity can hide at big agencies in a way in can't in smaller firms. 01.19 mins
- Why it's wrong that the more senior you get in a large agency the further away you get from actually serving clients. 01.43 mins
- How Aaron defines the difference between practice areas and
specialisms, and why it's an important consideration in how you organise
an agency. 02.05 mins
Why the need for more of a collaborative approach means agencies must rid themselves of departments and fiefdoms. 02.53 mins
- How KWT is set up so that junior staff don't have a vertical specialsm, it's a matrix structure. 03.09 mins
- Why the greatest mark of success of a business is not what an employee does while they're with you, but what they do when they leave. 04.08 mins
- Why matching people's passions to the clients they work on is really important. 04.30 mins
- Whether Aaron regrets selling KWT at such an early stage (when it had eight employees, it now has 80). 05.54 mins
- How MDC Partners merged KWT into a digital agency and then KWT "spun themselves back out". 05.59 mins
- Why there will be 2 types of PR firms - earned media shops and brand marketing agencies. 07.51 mins
- What impact the financial difficulties of KWT's owner and holding company MDC Partners has on the business. 09.56 mins
- Why London still is such an important place for US firms to have a presence. 11.17 mins
- What has Aaron learnt from acquiring PR agencies? 14.06 mins
- Why Aaron looks at agencies like shopping malls. 15.31 mins
- Which areas Aaron wants to make acquisitions in in London next year. 16.38 mins and 28.39 mins
- Why short-term earn outs in PR don't work. 17.34 mins
- Why KWT is bigger now than if Aaron had not taken investment from MDC Partners. 19.40 mins
- Why Aaron never wants to grow KWT beyond 150-200 people. 21.06 mins
- Why agencies need a purpose. 24.07 mins
- Why the dots on the map approach to international PR firms is outdated. 24.48 mins
- How Aaron took up Ironman in 2008 after his dad passed away from congestive heart failure. 31.26 mins
- Why Aaron's best thinking is done when he's swimming. 33.45 mins
- Why Aaron isn't worried about Brexit. 36.15 mins
- Why firms that have multiple offices spread their risk. 37.05 mins