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W2O Group, an independent global network of leading marketing communications firms, today reported another year of growth and progress with a 10 percent increase in revenue to nearly $83 million in 2014 from $75 million in 2013. W2O Group companies, comprising WCG, Twist and Brewlife, now employ more than 425 people in 10 U.S. offices and a growing London office and EMEA presence.

W2O Group Pragmatic Disruption Ad copyThe company also announced key senior management promotions designed to enhance client service and delivery, foster continued innovation of software-enabled services grounded in state-of-the-art analytics and insights, and position W2O for future growth and evolution internationally. Exemplifying this evolution, the firm’s digital health ecosystem and insights platform, MDigitalLife, stores more than 500,000 unique digital footprints of the world’s doctors, patients and health systems. This resource is used by numerous global clients, including nearly 70% of the world’s top pharma firms.

“2014 was a purposeful year of well-managed, profitable growth that will enable us to further diversify and innovate with our clients on a more global scale,” said W2O Group Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss. “We focused on getting the right systems in place and people in the right positions to ensure that as we expand into new regions and industry sectors, our teams are optimized to deliver flawlessly for our clients and that our infrastructure is aligned to support international growth. The moves we have already announced in 2015, including the acquisitions of ARC2 and VinTank and the hiring of Dorinda Marticorena to lead our Entertainment practice demonstrate how we are continuously evolving the firm to partner with clients in the most productive way possible. We will do all of this while staying true to our foundational #GoAhead #MakeItHappen culture that values and respects quality results and achievement, intelligence, independence, curiosity, courage and a #ChooseHappiness mindset.”

Key management promotions include the following:

Bob Pearson, President of W2O, will now also serve as Chief Innovation Officer to accelerate the firm’s software and technology offerings and facilitate and incubate new practices, offices and game-changing talent.

Jennifer Gottlieb, formerly President of Twist, which has more than doubled in size in the last three years, will become Chief Operating Officer and Head of Client Service for W2O Group and will run its three integrated marketing and communications firms.

Annalise Coady, who has run W2O’s London office and EMEA region, will become President of Twist, expanding the firm’s global footprint to accelerate and facilitate international expansion.

Aaron Strout, who has led the exponential growth of the Technology practice in the last few years, has been promoted to President of WCG. He is moving from Austin to the company’s Silicon Valley office to further focus and grow this area of expertise.

Carolyn Wang, who has been with the firm for over a decade, overseeing investor relations and corporate communications capabilities for life sciences and digital health clients, has been promoted to President of BrewLife to grow that firm in much the same way Jennifer Gottlieb led the growth of Twist.

Paul Dyer, who pioneered the firm’s social media, influencer analytics and digital capabilities, will become President of the firm’s centralized, yet-to-be renamed Analytics and Insights company and shared SaaS capability, which will serve W2O clients as well as its own client base. Seth Duncan, who has been integrally involved in creating the firm’s well-respected, industry-leading Analytics and Insights offering, has been promoted to Managing Director. He will work closely with Paul Dyer to enhance the current offering and develop a differentiated market research and influencer audience targeting sciences business.

Paulo Simas, formerly President of BrewLife, and Gary Grates, formerly head of W2O’s Global Change and Corporate Reputation practice, will now lead and grow a Global Business Design practice. That new practice will comprise those existing capabilities and expand beyond them to bring a differentiated branding and reputation offering to clients that will leverage the firms’ collective integrated analytics, insights, creative, digital technology and strategic media planning capabilities.

Mike Hartman, Chief Creative Officer of W2O Group, will expand the remit of that shared service to include strategic account planning and digital agency services such as customer user experience, e-commerce and social CRM planning and execution. He will also enhance the firm’s media and engagement and entertainment offerings with agile content development through W2O Group Films.

“Bob Pearson and Jenn Gottlieb will work together with this amazing group of people, who are stepping up into new roles and responsibilities, and their capable teams to deliver services, software and solutions that will exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Weiss. “We are expanding our healthcare offering, building technology into a practice as important to our future as healthcare, and developing our capabilities to create unique advantages for any brand in any industry. I have never been more excited about our future than I am today, and remain committed to making W2O Group the very best it can be for our clients and our people.”

Click here to view the press release.

As Managing Partner of the W2O Group, Paulo’s high-octane personality inspires both colleagues and clients. He’s the catalyst pulled in on business strategy and branding, and is always a champion of communication that drives meaningful engagement.

Paulo SimasHow did Paulo get here? In 1999 he founded ODA, a design and branding agency that developed successful marketing programs for brands such as Hitachi, HP, Domaine Chandon, Motorola, Foxhollow, Medtronic and Acclarent. Then in 2009, ODA was acquired by WCG and Paulo became the creative force behind that agency’s explosive growth.

Flash forward five years: WCG now has a younger sister, BrewLife. And Paulo is our BrewLife alchemistadvising, inspiring and helping us turn our ideas into gold.

How do you fit into the picture at BrewLife?
I’m a business designer who jumps in as needed to provide strategic and creative input. I’m a contributor in a collaborative ecosystem.
 
What excites you about your role?
Business design! It’s branding all grown up. It injects business acumen into a creative process to build modern companies that live in a multi-touchpoint world. I love bringing clarity and organizational intelligence to brands who’ve lost their way. And I thrive on guiding the creative that plays such a pivotal role in communicating a brand’s value to the world. Business isn’t just about getting product to market—it’s about creating a culture of engagement that flows to the customer and back.
 
What’s your secret sauce?
I understand the business of business—financial, functional, pipeline, the pains of the C-Suite, all of it—and I understand which story or promise will have impact. I’ve launched over 100 brands and leverage this experience to map out the right communication platform to amplify a brand’s potential

What would you be doing if not this?
Building houses. Starting with my own on a warm beach in front of a magical left break. My grandfather was a carpenter and architecture was my love before art. I have a woodshop at home, unfortunately sitting idle.

What’s fueling you today?
Oatmeal

 

This was an exciting week within the halls of WCG. The analytics team, now approaching 40 people, was assembled in Austin for two days of training and development. It was the first time that the entire group has been assembled to talk about our models, our work and, most importantly, share our collective experiences with the goal of producing high quality work for our clients.

The WCG analytics team has grown tremendously over the last three years. When I joined the team in January of 2010 we were in a small office outside of downtown and there were only a handful of us doing analytics work for clients. Now, the team brings a wealth of experience beyond social analytics. We have a strong, and diverse team now with skills in web analytics, search, and traditional market research. These new team members have come in and built on our strong footprint in social analytics.

These two days in Austin have left me super-charged to be back at a firm that places such a high value on analytics. WCG is unique because everyone has bought into the idea that analytics is at the foundation of everything we do. It’s one of the reasons I was excited to rejoin the firm back in January. Want the rest? Well, here you go…

  1. Executive leadership has a deeply rooted belief in the power of analytics Jim Weiss, Bob Pearson, Tony Esposito, Diane Weiser, Paulo Simas, Gail Cohen, Jennifer Gottlieb, Leslie Wheeler, Craig Alperowitz and a host of others at the senior leadership level believe analytics is at the foundation of everything we do. They’ve invested time and energy in helping to build analytics models that benefit clients, and also position the firm as an innovative thought leader in a very crowded space. For someone who works in analytics and had their value challenged frequently, having senior leadership approval is a comforting thing.
  2. Jim Weiss and Bob Pearson – I know I mentioned Jim and Bob above, but I want to call them out separately for taking a chance on me – twice! I asked to come back to a place that I left, and they welcomed me back with open arms They have also given me a simple mission: “Help us do great work for our clients and continue to innovate.” How can you not be charged up by something like that?
  3. The best analytics team in the business – As I mentioned above, the team has grown and added some incredibly strong people like Tim Marklein, Seth Duncan and Amy Jackson. If you don’t know them, you should. Keep watching for what the analytics team develops. Shock and awe doesn’t even begin to describe it.
  4. Brian Reid – There are not many people in communications whose opinion on the media I trust more than Brian’s. It could be because he was a writer at the Washington Post, but more likely it is his intense curiosity to understand the evolving digital landscape. I have had some great discussions about the topic of online influence with people who you might know better than Brian, but I’ll tell you that few (if any) will make you rethink your stance on the topic more than him.
  5. Everyone who has welcomed me back or believed I could make a difference when coming back – Again, it could be seen as cliché to say that it feels like I never left, but it’s true. It really feels like I never left. This group of people is literally too long to list, and I’d be afraid of leaving someone off. If I haven’t thanked you in person yet, rest assured that I will at some point soon.

So there you have it… I could literally list 60 reasons why I am happy to be back at WCG, but that would make for the longest blog post in history. It’s great being in a place where I feel like I belong. Lets keep doing great work for clients, and making some serious thought leadership waves. It is time to GO. AHEAD.

Wanted to share a very interesting and eye opening day I had.

A client of ours held a “Brand Summit” where all the agencies were asked to come in to discuss how to best align marketing, communication and branding efforts into one platform.

When I first heard about the fact that, indeed, what I perceived as my rivals and I would all be in the same room together, I immediately went into full blown “ego” mode.  There was no way the rooster in me was going to sit quietly.  The initial thought was I needed to come in demonstrate how smart we are, show all our successes to date and strive for global agency dominance.  This was not to be the case.

I came to find out that one of the agencies was a part of the WCG web and currently engaged in partnership with us on several pieces of business.  We set up a call prior to the meeting to discuss the state of the state on both sides.  It was instant chemistry.  I started the call by saying that we need to do this for “our” client, not for us.  If we showed a united front with only the client’s best interest in mind it could prove a win/win for us both.  By making it about the client it almost instantly brought a certain sense of purpose to this odd encounter and both of us left the call enthusiastically optimistic about what a potential outcome would look like.

The day began with the moderator the client hired (ring leader, cage match ref, judge… whatever) reading the phrase from a large poster, “FOR THE GOOD OF (CLIENT NAME)”. It was grounding, direct, and uniting. We spent the next six hours sharing ideas, discussing strategies, evaluating tactics, agreeing, disagreeing, laughing and ultimately coming to a consensus. We all shared one thing in common, DELIVERING the very best possible experience for our customers. We agreed that both the physician and the patient deserve to have the most relevant information at their disposal in order to make, what was in this case, a life changing clinical decision. It was up to us to insure this message was reaching them all. Regardless of the channel, we must have a united way of speaking as it is the ONLY way a true conversation continuum can ever be successful. Simply put, when patients see an ad, read some editorial or learn something online, and then walk into a doctor’s office, they better damn well be hearing the same thing. In other words –no light between the messaging.  Many companies approach marketing in silos when there should essentially only be one conversation. Ultimately, it’s the channel that changes not the conversation platform. Because individuals do check to see what others are talking about, especially online, companies should work to insure conversations with their respective audiences utilize “one voice.”

“Enlightening” is the only word that comes to mind in describing the day in review. On many fronts it was eye opening to witness that even in 2010, many communicators view themselves as tacticians not creative thinkers. Many are afraid of change because that means letting go of the old. In doing so, it also means what got them here may not get them there. When the momentum in the room slowed or changed it was always for one reason –someone made it about themselves and that’s when fear crept back in. When it was redirected to the “objective” it suddenly became freeing to imagine what was possible because the current state was replaced by the desired state. We focused on solutions, not problems, resulting in the agencies agreeing to develop one brand/messaging platform, focus on programs not campaigns, develop a true push-pull strategy, focus on brand not branding, create a clear open dialog and, yes, even have some fun doing it together. Imagine that!  Our client and the moderator were blown away at the level of positive engagement we all demonstrated. They were more than complimentary, they said it was exemplary. And it was truly exemplary of the client to bring us all together in the first place!

We all have a lot to learn from each other, if we are open minded, check our egos at the door and are willing to be a little uncomfortable doing it for the first time. Clients are seeking leadership from individuals and agency partners that think creatively and provide impactful solutions that can change their business. This applies to every one of us. Remember that creative is very different than thinking creatively. It lies within each of us, ready to be tapped when we look for answers to complex or even simple problems. I went from “let’s take them down” to “let’s do what’s right,” because I was willing to be a little uncomfortable with the outcome.  Next time you’re in a meeting think to yourself, “do I want to be right or do I want to be effective.”

Make it about the customer, put your passion behind the experience and watch the change happen.

Go. Ahead.

Snap. It’s already that time when companies start reflecting on the past year: “What did we accomplish?  How did we advance? Where did we fall short? Ultimately, did we DELIVER?” No matter the answers, you now have the pleasure of letting your shareholders know. Time to chronicle the milestones of the last twelve months. Ah, the annual report. Some companies see it as a “wrap” to a 10-K, others can’t wait to let shareholders know why they should stick around. When designed well, an annual report is a perfect blend of logic and feeling.

Not until legislation was enacted after the stock market crash in 1929, did the annual report became a regular component of corporate financial reporting. Typically, an annual report will contain the following sections; Financial Highlights, Letter to the Shareholders, Graphics and Photos, Financial Statements, Notes to Financial Statements, Auditor’s Report, Summary Financial Data, Corporate Information, but ask yourself this: why do anything typical?

Annual reports have more than evolved throughout the years, they have transformed into a hybrid of the short story narrative and the spreadsheet.  An interwoven story of reality and ambitions. Shareholders are no longer in the dark about what their companies are up too, they virtually know your every move. With so much they already know, so much they have already analyzed, so much they have already researched, what could be possibly left for them to discover? How about your voice? Many shareholders invest in companies they have never met nor visited. Why don’t you invite them inside?

You have a captured audience ready to listen to what you have to say, about what has happened and what will happen next. Make it count. They are ready to carry your company forward on financial message boards, if you confidently communicate the company’s current state, desired state and dream state. No annual report design can promise financial returns but it can capture the imagination of shareholders to what is possible, while at the same time giving them the financial data to stand on. Shareholders will formulate their decision of “should I stay or should I go” based on two factors, part rational and part emotional, your annual must be grounded in both.

In the end, think of your annual report not as something you have to deliver, but as something you can’t wait to deliver. Make it memorable and watch your shareholders go from investors to believers to ambassadors that are the power of connecting logic with feeling.

When you’re ready to tell your tale…

Check out some of our award winning annual reports!

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