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Sami McCabe, founder and CEO of Clarity on his plans to build it into a $250 firm in the next 5 years

Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.

Today we’re chatting with Clarity CEO Sami McCabe.

For PR industry observers, Clarity has been an interesting watch over the past few years. It’s had investment from Matthew Freud (which was bound to draw attention), it’s hired some some expensive senior talent and it’s acquired 7 or 8 businesses.

So today we’re going to talk to Sami about the business, its acquisition and growth strategy and where he sees the future of an earned media consultancy.

Clarity is a $20m PR firm with about 200 employees and offices in London, Cornwall, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. It was founded in 2012.

Before we start do check out our latest webinar The intersection of PR and SEO 2023.

Thanks as ever to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors The PRCA.

Here’s a summary of what Sami and I spoke about:

2 mins Sami updates us, briefly, about the story of Clarity so far.

3 mins Clarity has taken investment from an early stage. Matthew Freud invested in 2019 and institutional investors Thincats in 2022. Sami talks about why investors see PR firms as an attractive proposition.

“Not everyone is looking for a Unicorn”

6 mins Is Sami surprised more PR firms don't take external investment?

“If we were doing this buy-and-build strategy off our balance sheet and with cashflows, it would be a very slow and painful process but capital gives us the ability to go out to the market and acquire businesses much more quickly than would have been able to do otherwise.”

“Some deals take 2/3 months, other (deals) are much slower”

12 mins Sami identifies his top buyer priorities when Clarity is buying a PR firm.

16 mins How do you maximise the chances of success of the integration of 2 agencies

“It’s a change management process…we massively over-communicate!”

18 mins Sami lists the agencies Clarity has bought over the past few years.

21 mins In our pre-show chat, Sami reckoned Clarity will grow at 50% in 2023, so presumably, he intends to continue to go shopping?

22 mins Sami on how he intends to build Clarity into a $250 firm in 5 years.

“On an annual basis, we are looking to acquire $25m of revenue per year for the next 5 years”

24 mins Which vertical sectors are the investment priorities?

27 mins Clarity hired quite a few expensive senior people quite earlier in its story - how much of a risk was that and has it paid off?

29 mins Why Sami's move to the US, which initially didn’t work out as he had intended, led to the acquisition strategy of Clarity.

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