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